Massive Poppy Bust: Why Home-Grown Opium Is Rare

A North Carolina man was arrested last month when police discovered an acre of opium poppies growing in his yard.

The alleged grower, Cody Xiong, faces a rare charge in the United States. Despite a raging opioid epidemic in the country, fields of home-grown opium are rare. The sheriff in the North Carolina case said the discovery was only the second time the plant had been found growing in the United States this year, WBTV reported.

There are two big reasons for this lack of agricultural entrepreneurship: effective U.S. law enforcement and the ease of importing heroin made from opium poppies grown elsewhere, said H. Douglas Wankel, a former assistant administrator and chief of operations in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“It’s very labor-intensive,” Wankel told Live Science.

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