Poppies Are More Than Just A Pretty Flower

Poppies are more than a pretty flower

Picture this: miles upon miles of bright scarlet, orange, and yellow poppy flowers, as far as the eye can see. Sounds pretty beautiful right? However, these visually beautiful poppy fields also hold a more sinister side; they are a large factor in producing the lethal drug heroin.

It’s a tough concept to grasp sometimes. How can such a beautiful thing create something that is so harmful and dangerous? While the abuse of heroin used to be a problem largely confined to hubs in California and Texas, Mexican drug traffickers have since expanded into the Midwest and the Atlantic Seaboard. Traffickers have even taken it a step further and implemented the use of marketing tactics to reposition heroin commercially; revamping its image. From what was once the inner-city drug of the past, with its junkies and needles, to now the narcotic that can be snorted or smoked, heroin has grown in appeal to suburban and even rural high school youth.

Heroin and its drug gangs have also gotten a boost from the plateau of the prescription pain reliever abuse epidemic; as youths are now looking for a cheaper high. In the words of Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief who’s the White House drug czar, “We’ve heard around the country of changes away from prescription drugs, because they are either more expensive or more difficult to obtain, and a movement toward heroin, which is less costly.” As of March, Mexico has surpassed Myanmar as the world’s second largest poppy cultivator, producing 7 percent of the world’s heroin, mostly for the U.S. market; and according to the U.S. State Department, Mexican poppy production has nearly tripled since 2007. While Mexico strongly disputes that estimate, what is indisputable is the fact that drug syndicates that produce black tar and brown heroin in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains are pushing aggressively into areas where they haven’t been active before.

Heroin—teenagers across the United States are dying from apparent heroin overdoses in the past nine months, as law enforcement officials warn that heroin has gained a foothold in suburban Atlanta and is the fastest-growing drug in northern Ohio. Even in places such as the Western United States where Mexican heroin has been present for decades, law enforcement officials report they are seeing more of it than ever before. At around $15 a hit, heroin is a lot cheaper than prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin which can cost upwards of $50 to $80 for a single tablet on the black market. As they are both opiates and have similar highs, which one is cash strapped teenager more likely to go after?


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