Grow poppies! For the ANZACs, of course. (Civil Disobedience campaign)

Written by on December 4, 2015

We’ve been campaigning against the introduction of a piece of legislation in Victoria, Australia which seeks to ban the possession and distribution of certain information.

The whole thing has been introduced off the back of a largely falsified ‘ice epidemic’ and is a typical example of ‘tough on drugs’ policies that have never worked to date and have only caused more heartache throughout our communities.

Because we are constantly having to fight stupid, stupid regulation like this, along with stigmatising myths and falsehoods about drugs and the current war on drugs, we never get to discuss the many, varied and often complex reasons for why we take the drugs that we do.

Many people who don’t understand drug taking or who are completely anti-drugs fundamentally don’t understand why people would take drugs. From their perspective, drug taking is seen as dangerous, selfish, frivolous, hedonistic and perhaps a sign of immorality more broadly.

I recently had the following interaction with Prof. Kerryn Phelps, a highly respected doctor, health and civil rights advocate and Dr. Alex Wodak, also a highly respected doctor and drug law reform advocate.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.41.34 pm

Of course, it’s impossible to have this discussion in a meaningful way under the 140 character restraint of Twitter. But we often can clearly demonstrate our primary opinion on something, such as drug taking. Prof. Phelps’ opinion is not controversial, it is probably the most common opinion on drug taking. Summed up quite nicely by the paraphrased statement,

“It is always stupid to take psychoactive drugs for non-medical reasons.”

I recently visited The Pixie Collective and picked up the book, The Drugtakers by Jock Young. Young writes about the origins of drug taking and the tendency for the discourse around drug taking to be dominated by those who see drug use as black and white. If it’s not for medical reasons, then why are you doing it? Are you stupid or something?

We have seen that the absolutists’ theories of drugtaking focus entirely on the drug used without considering its cultural meaning, take social reaction against the drugtaker for granted without attempting to explain it, picture themselves as having the objectivity of physical scientists by ignoring the fact that they view reality from the perspective of their own values and that their pronouncements often — if they possess power in the world — effect the ‘reality’ which they are studying. – The Drugtakers

Animosity toward other people’s psychoactive substance of choice is not a new phenomena, despite the global almost-homogenous prohibition of most psychoactive drugs being relatively recent.


Ethnopharmacologist Dr. Stephen Bright recently wrote an article for The Conversation, pointing out that King Charles II tried to ban coffee in the 17th century, due to a concern that people were discussing politics while drinking it. And remembering their conversations.

Perhaps one of the most insidious aspects of drug prohibition is within the term ‘drug’. A few years back, I went out and voxpopped a bunch of strangers, asking them what they thought of when they heard the word, “drugs”.


The responses were many and varied but one thing was clear. It is a highly emotive term for most people and seems to reflect a moral position toward a wide variety of very, very different substances. The fact is that most people think of Schedule 11 (Victoria) or Schedule 8 and 9 (Commonwealth) substances when they hear the word ‘drugs’. They think of a highly arbitrary collection of substances contained within government schedules that have been cobbled together over the decades, usually during one of those moral panics that often spike around whatever drug the media has just found out about.

This situation is made all the worse by the legalese phrase, ‘Drug of Dependence‘ which is essentially an algebraic-like place holder for Schedule 11 substances in Victoria. The term is used in government literature and gives an impression that all of the substances it refers to cause dependence at a level that is of such an unacceptable risk to society that any use, possession, supply, manufacture OR EVEN THE MERE SHARING OF INFORMATION ABOUT THESE THINGS must mean that people need to be thrown in jail with hefty sentences and fines to punish them. This idea is constantly backed up by moral panics that focus on whatever the ‘hot’ drug is at the moment (the hot drug at the moment is ice. Hot ice), with constant severely hyperbolic stories about the death, destruction and mayhem taking that drug will cause someone’s life.

Consequences of using an illegal drug (or drug of dependence) are almost always over-stated. The social engineers think that if anyone dare speaks of the positive effects of using certain drugs (or suggests that there even are positive effects), then we will encourage innocent people (probably children) to take deadly drugs and slowly enter a life of depravity and immorality.

So we hardly speak of the positives and the various departments and professionals who seek to guide our every choice in life tell us over and over again of the dangers of drug taking.

Psymposia's drug war stories session in Washington DC, Friday 20th November

Psymposia’s drug war stories session in Washington DC, Friday 20th November

But, of course we take specific drugs for specific reasons and there are many subjective positives that we experience from those various altered experiences, whether it is the insight and mystical revelation of the sacred mushroom, the neo-holy communion experienced through LSD, the intricate connection and emotional-opening joy of MDMA or the other-worldly and incredibly intriguing reality-explosion of DMT. Many of these experiences are ineffable – without word. They are difficult for us to explain in a meaningful way to a non-drug taker and we are often scoffed at and ridiculed for exploring these states of consciousness. Many of these experiences are considered personally therapeutic to those who take them and there is a growing movement into researching the medical potential of these substances.

The Victorian Government has its final sitting days of parliament on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. It is likely that the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Bill 2015 will be debated in the Upper House one day next week and at this stage, it is likely the Bill will pass without amendment.

They are coming after our literature now, which is perhaps one of the most direct ways that a government can attack a culture. I’m not writing these posts to encourage people to become Walter White. Greed for supplying a black market is not my motivation at all, nor am I motivated by a desire for people to develop substance use problems. I am motivated by a desire to change the way we understand drugs, because until we start having a sensible discussion around them… until we start trusting that the community of people who take a wide variety of very different drugs actually have a lot of knowledge and capability on how to best deal with the problems in their own communities… until that time, we will keep spinning on this merry-go-round of human misery, political stupidity, vast unchecked ignorance and awful attitudes toward the very people that we’re apparently trying to ‘save’.


The humble poppy has been used as a sign to remember the deaths of those who went to war on both Remembrance Day in November and increasingly on ANZAC Day. The species used for these events is Papaver Rhoeas or the Red Flanders Poppy but there are many other varieties of poppies, some that look very similar and many that have been traditionally grown for ornamental and therapeutic purposes. Victorian farmers recently celebrated their first harvest of legal (licensed and regulated) Papaver Somniferum or the Opium Poppy.

As part of an on-going civil disobedience campaign against the Victorian Government’s proposed laws to prohibit the publication and possession of information on the cultivation, manufacture or distribution of a ‘drug of dependence’, here is a guide on how to grow poppies.

The cultivation of any poppy is relatively simple and the process is similar no matter the species. In Australia it is illegal to grow Papaver Somniferum, however the poppy tends to self-propagate easily and grows in many places regardless of this law.

  1. Acquire seeds for the variety of poppy you wish to cultivate.
  2. Choose a full sun position and either do a mass planting or sow in drifts through the garden.
  3. Poppy seeds should be sown directly into the garden or pots in which they are to be grown as they don’t like to be moved.  In pots, use a premium potting mix but in the garden, dig through lots of manure and compost so that it is nice and rich.  Level the soil by tamping down gently with something flat and then scatter the seeds over the top.  Cover the seed with a layer of seed raising mix that is only about 2mm thick (not too thick as the seed won’t be able to push through).  Tamp this down again and water with a gentle spray.
  4. Keep the soil damp because if it dries out after the seeds have germinated, they will shrivel up.  Protect the seedlings from snails and as they grow, extend the flowering period by liquid feeding and removing any old flowers.

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Current track