When I visited the amazing and wonderful United States National Arboretum with Susan Harris ten days ago, I was amused to see the seedpods of what appeared to be opium poppies.
Scroll down this DEA bulletin to the seizure of poppy plants, and you'll see that the DEA's position is that growing Papaver somniferum is illegal. But gardeners, including me, plant the seeds anyway–the plant is too beautiful not to grow! At least, we do it once, and then the amazingly well engineered seed pods take over and scatter the seed in our gardens forever more. In 1997, Michael Pollan wrote a superb piece about the ways in which this county's confusion over garden poppies illustrates our larger confusion, as a culture, about the "war on drugs."