Origins of Poppy
To begin with, the poppy seeds come from the opium poppy, whose scientific name is Papaver somniferum, which means “Sleep-inducing poppy.” (Yep, the kind that the Wicked Witch of the West uses to put Dorothy Gale to sleep). This variety of poppy is actually a popular cultivar found throughout the world and is often unassumingly grown in flower beds by unaware gardeners who simply want to appreciate the flower's gorgeous complexion.
Poppies and Opium
This plant has been cultivated for centuries for its narcotic effects. The drug, opium, is harvested from the fruit of the poppy plant. These fruits are scored with a knife, and then exude a latex-like substance which is then dried and harvested. It’s this substance that is rich in narcotic compounds such as morphine and codeine, which are used for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
While the latex is required to create refined drugs, the entire poppy fruit can also be used. Often times, they are dried out and added to soup, stews, or teas and allowed to infuse both their floral, citrusy flavors but also to function as a natural digestive or sleep aid.
Can You Fail a Drug Test Because of Poppy Seeds?
Poppy seeds do have tiny trace amounts of various narcotic compounds, but nothing so major that a person could get high from ingesting poppy seeds. However, this does mean that the seeds can result in a false positive on a drug test. Luckily, most modern drug tests show the levels of opiate materials in a sample, and so lab technicians can discern between a small opiate level caused by ingestion of a cookie versus the astounding opiate levels in a sample given from an opiate abuser.
The opiate levels from poppy seeds can range from 45 to 200 mg/kg and can show up in the bloodstream about 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion.
While in most countries a false positive is easily proven, it isn’t the same everywhere. Some Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia classify poppy seeds as an illegal substance. In fact, one Swiss tourist has been placed in jail for four years after eating a poppy seed roll. The poppy seeds were found on the tourist's clothes and he was convicted of drug possession.
Can Poppy Seeds Make You High?
Poppy seeds are not addictive and cannot produce hallucinations or other similar opiate side effects of any sort. The sheer quantity of poppy seeds one would need to eat to get that kind of high would cause far worse digestive damage to the body than anything else. (And, likely, quite a round of constipation.)
So by all means, add poppy seeds―white or black―to your muffins. Roll them up into your rugelach. Crust them to your bagels and hamburger buns! Enjoy their pin-prick pop as you bite into them and relish their lemony tang.
Just don’t eat them the day of your drug test.