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Poppy Monopoly For the Opiate Industry At Stake in Australia

Every day I blog about opiates and the lives affected by them. I go into detail about different situations, and what is being done to try to educate people to the best of my ability. Most of us are aware of the dangers that are prescription painkillers and heroin. We hear about it all the time due to the epidemic of opiate abuse around the world. One aspect of this grand epidemic we are facing is the origin of opiates.

There are a handful of countries with the United Nation's approval to grow poppy plants for the pharmaceutical industry. Australia is one of the few countries that provides poppy plants to make opiate based medications.  The farmers in Australia are fighting for some farmers to keep their industry a monopoly. Back in the 1970's, Australia's federal and state governments agreed to limit the farming industry of poppy plants to the island state of Tasmania. The reason behind this decision was to keep the dangerous plants away from the general population. The plants are highly valuable and are extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. There have been many instances where uneducated users try to abuse the poppies and overdose because they are unaware of how strong and dangerous the plants are.

Farmers in Tasmania are trying to keep the crop exclusive to their island. Glynn Williams from the Tasmania's Poppy Association said, “From a security point of view, Tasmania has one of the most settled populations second to Iceland in terms of stability.” “Because of Tasmania's accelerated aging we have a median age now which is approaching 42. We have a very law abiding state, crime is actually falling and interferences with the drug are falling, you introduce narcotic drug into another place in a big rush then you could have all sorts of unfortunate consequences.” Interesting enough, Tasmania is not without security breaches of their poppy fields. Last year nearly 3,000 poppy plants were stolen.

Tasmania is no longer the only place in Australia to grow poppy plants. The monopoly on the industry is no longer a reality as legislation was passed through the Lower House allowing Victorian farmers to grow the poppy crop. Other regions also want a piece of the $120 million a year industry and the demand for these crops is the highest it has ever been.

Pharmaceutical companies are looking for their crops to be from more regions. If poppy plants were limited to one state like Tasmania, prices are set and the farmers have control of the cost. Now that poppy plants are being grown elsewhere, the companies can shop around for the best price. It gives the companies more power and diminishes the price of the crops. The more farmers growing the crop, the more harm that may be done as more of the poppy plants are available to be processed into opium and heroin.


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