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Quantification of Morphine, Codeine, and Thebaine in Home-Brewed Poppy Seed Tea by LC-MS/MS

Lethal amounts of morphine can be rinsed from poppy seed coats by home-brewing methods

  1. Calliope
    Study Author(s):
    Deborah Powers M.S., Stephen Erickson M.D., Madeleine J. Swortwood Ph.D.
    Journal Name:
    Journal of Forensic Sciences
    Publication Date:
    2017
    Abstract
    Recently, medical examiners reported two cases of a 21-year-old male and 24-year-old male with high amounts of morphine in their blood at autopsy. It was suspected that the decedents ingested lethal amounts of morphine from home-brewed poppy seed tea. No studies to date have investigated opium alkaloid content extracted from poppy seeds by home-brewing methods. Various poppy seed products were purchased from online sources and extracted with four home-brewing methods representative of recipes found on drug user forums. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine were quantified in the tea extracts by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry using a validated analytical method. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine concentrations from seeds were <1–2788 mg/kg, <1–247.6 mg/kg, and <1–124 mg/kg, respectively. Alkaloid yield varied between extractions, but regardless of extraction conditions, lethal amounts of morphine can be rinsed from poppy seed coats by home-brewing methods.