- Study Author(s):
- Deborah Powers M.S., Stephen Erickson M.D., Madeleine J. Swortwood Ph.D.
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Forensic Sciences
- Publication Date:
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.