What is the appropriate response for questions regarding growing e.g. Opium Poppies, Cannabis, Coca, etc. and other behavior that is illegal in the US?

I know over on the Homebrewing SE, pretty much all questions regarding home distillation are considered "off-topic", and the illegality (in the US) is generally mentioned whenever anyone argues with flagging the questions as such.

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    Moderators are not generally qualified to determine what is illegal and what isn't. That said, I generally close questions that are clearly abusive. Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 17:44

4 Answers 4


I'm gonna disagree with what appears to be the majority opinion here.

Just because growing these things is illegal in the US does not mean they are illegal internationally.

Just because we use these things as drugs does not mean they are not plants. They have just as much a place in a garden as any other plant. They'll have the same issues and the same questions surrounding their growth.

And finally it is not our place to judge the grower for their use. Laws change -- especially prohibition laws -- and plants have many uses, cannabis is also used for hemp rope and poppies for baking or beauty.

I think any plant growing, garden tending question ought to be on topic.

Now questions related to using those plants illegally (as drugs, etc) should decidedly be off-topic.

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    +1 -- I can distill booze from my corn (illegal in the US), make wine from just about anything (illegal in some US locations and other places around the world), and grow blackcurrants (illegal in several states because of white pine blister rust).
    – bstpierre
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 16:45
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    I strongly agree, and this does not appear to be a minority opinion. Let's just stick to gardening. 1. If someone wants advice on growing Cannabis sativa that's a legitimate horticultural question (as unsavoury as you or I might personally find the consumption of the buds). 2. In many parts of the world this is not illegal, particularly if there are only a small number of plants (i.e. not industrial scale) so the legal argument doesn't carry weight for me. 3. There are clearly non-recreational uses for cannabis even if you disagree with recreational use (eg. for use as a textile).
    – Lisa
    Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 3:07

Opium poppies are the same poppies that produce poppy seeds used in baking. The only difference between the 2 is the intent of the grower.

Cannibis, while banned/restricted federally, is legal to grow in some states (I live in one).

I'm of the inclination that pot and coca are off-topic due to legal issues, but poppies are on-topic. If they specifically use the "opium" word, I'd be inclined to agree it is off-topic.

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    I like the idea that certain terms are more important triggers than the plants themselves. My guess is that far and away the most common, legally-questionable type of questions will be about trying to grow pot in the basement. I imagine the askers will not have much interest in other aspects of gardening. But a question about growing other plants in a basement should be no problem. Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 17:46

I think a question about growing "opium poppies, cannabis, coca" is off-topic because that isn't gardening as commonly defined. That's a hobby and/or commercial enterprise (albeit illegal) that merely happens to involve plants but really is nothing to do with love of plants or growing things.

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    I think for most people here gardening = hobby.
    – kmm
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 23:27
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    I would be happy for it to be left to the discretion of high-rep members to decide whether a question constitutes genuine horticultural enquiry or not. If someone is worried about a particular bug is attacking their opium poppies, other gardeners growing only regular Papaver rhoeas could still benefit from the answer.
    – Lisa
    Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 3:13

Whilst there isn't a particular flag option for reporting illegal activities, you may report a question/answer requesting moderator attention. You can explain what the problem is and a moderator should deal with it.

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