Poppies (Papaver somniferum) are an herbaceous annual plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Apart from the value of poppy seed as a condiment and oil as an edible source or potential biofuel, the poppy produces a unique assortment of valuable alkaloid compounds called active pharmaceutical ingredients. For example, morphine, codeine, thebaine, oripavine and papaverine are several opioids produced by P. somniferum with high pharmaceutical value.

Every year approximately 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of poppies are grown globally for culinary and pharmaceutical purposes. Over 90% of this licit poppy cultivation occurred in seven countries including: Australia, France, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Turkey, and India. Because it is exceedingly difficult to convert poppies into narcotics, there has been an absence of criminal diversion, according to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a quasi-judicial branch of the United Nations which oversees the production of all narcotic materials. For nearly forty years, thousands of acres of poppies have been grown annually in Europe and Australia (Tasmania) without any serious diversion issues.

ICBN reported that existing controls have been successful, and there is “virtually no diversion ” of legally produced substances over the past sixty years. During this timeframe, the substantial increases of poppy growth and products has not compromised security. The existing control regime works.

Canada is the only G7 country that does not cultivate or process poppies for pharmaceutical use.