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**Historical Overview and Production**:
Opium is dried latex from opium poppy seed capsules, with approximately 12% morphine.
– Traditional method involves scratching seed pods for latex extraction.
– Production methods have remained unchanged since ancient times.
– Thebaine, another opium alkaloid, is used in semisynthetic opiates.
Opium has a long history, with cultivation dating back to 3400 BCE in Mesopotamia.
Opium was used in ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece for medicinal and ritual purposes.

**Medical Use and Regulations**:
Opium was widely used in medicine before morphine.
Morphine and its derivatives are controlled substances.
Opium’s analgesic properties have been utilized for centuries.
– Controlled use requires licenses.
Opium’s medicinal properties are documented in ancient texts.
– Manuscripts from the 10th and 11th centuries mention opium for inducing sleep and pain relief.

**Recreational and Cultural Use**:
Opium was used recreationally in various societies.
Opium dens were prevalent in China in the 18th century.
Opium was used for various purposes in China, including enhancing masculinity and art.
Opium smoking was once a civilized ritual in East Asia.
Opium was used recreationally in England, the Middle East, and the US.

**Impact of Opium Trade**:
Opium trade was standardized with specific weight and packaging.
– British East India Company controlled opium production in India.
Opium trade was a major revenue source for the British Empire.
Opium wars were initiated due to conflicts over the trade.
– Efforts to combat opium smuggling led to conflicts with China.

**Opposition and International Efforts**:
– The First Opium War was initiated due to Chinese actions against opium.
– British Prime Minister Gladstone opposed the opium trade.
– Missionaries and activists formed anti-opium leagues.
– International conferences condemned the opium trade.
– Agreements were sought to end the opium trade, supported by activists and organizations.

Opium (Wikipedia)

Opium (or poppy tears, scientific name: Lachryma papaveris) is dried latex obtained from the seed capsules of the opium poppy Papaver somniferum. Approximately 12 percent of opium is made up of the analgesic alkaloid morphine, which is processed chemically to produce heroin and other synthetic opioids for medicinal use and for the illegal drug trade. The latex also contains the closely related opiates codeine and thebaine, and non-analgesic alkaloids such as papaverine and noscapine. The traditional, labor-intensive method of obtaining the latex is to scratch ("score") the immature seed pods (fruits) by hand; the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky yellowish residue that is later scraped off and dehydrated. The word meconium (derived from the Greek for "opium-like", but now used to refer to newborn stools) historically referred to related, weaker preparations made from other parts of the opium poppy or different species of poppies.

Opium poppy seed pod exuding latex from a cut
Source plant(s)Papaver somniferum
Part(s) of plantLatex capsule seeds
Geographic originUncertain, possibly Asia Minor, or Spain, southern France and northwestern Africa
Active ingredients
Main producers
Main consumersWorldwide (#1: Iran)
Legal status

The production methods have not significantly changed since ancient times. Through selective breeding of the Papaver somniferum plant, the content of the phenanthrene alkaloids morphine, codeine, and to a lesser extent thebaine has been greatly increased. In modern times, much of the thebaine, which often serves as the raw material for the synthesis for oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and other semisynthetic opiates, originates from extracting Papaver orientale or Papaver bracteatum.

For the illegal drug trade, the morphine is extracted from the opium latex, reducing the bulk weight by 88%. It is then converted to heroin which is almost twice as potent, and increases the value by a similar factor. The reduced weight and bulk make it easier to smuggle.

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