Tonight, I’m giving a speech at the VIVAIDS Annual General Meeting. VIVAIDS are a [drug] user advocacy group whose purpose - as far as I can tell – is to stand up for the rights of junkies.
It’ll be a casual affair, held in a Fitzroy hotel, so I’ve written a short introduction recapping the standout drug-related story of the year [Bindeez, of course] and thanking the heavenly powers for the demise of the Howards and their prehistoric drug policies. After that, I’ll read an old story of mine called Seed Habit which describes the misadventures of a mad young man with a desperate poppy seed habit.
Poppy seed habit, you say? Well, the individual on whom I based the story was drinking between one and two kilos worth of poppy seed tea per day and - judging by his pinprick pupils - it was getting him thoroughly wasted. It used to amuse me; there was something desperate and ludicrous and strangely enterprising about the whole thing. He would obtain the thirty kilo seed sacks he required by posing as an independent baker with a small business in the heavily forested Bairnsdale hills.
In my wildest dreams, I never suspected that I would come to suffer the same fate. Early this year I made an attempt to wean myself off buprenorphine and completely clear my system of pharmaceuticals. I went down to Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula, where a friend rented a big old house with a bungalow.
The first few days were fine. I dosed myself up with doloxene and tramadol. I found myself experiencing very little in the way of withdrawal symptoms. And things were looking positive – until I had the bright idea of driving down to the supermarket to buy a few small packets of poppy seeds ... just to ease the tension a little…
I soaked 300g in a plastic water bottle for half an hour, drank the resulting solution, and was shocked to find myself comfortably stoned.
Well, I thought, these are merely poppy seeds. They won’t get in the way of my recovery. So I bought some more the next day, and the next, making certain they were always the Australian kind - as Australian poppy seeds are known to be the most potent of all. It is said they wash them at the factory and maybe they do - but I can vouch that plenty of alkaloids are being left behind.
A few years ago in the US, an employee tested positive to opiates and lost her job. She appealed on the basis that she had eaten a bagel smothered in poppy seeds the morning of the test. The fact that they were proven to be Australian poppy seeds lent much weight to her case, though I can’t recall if she was successful.
By the time, I arrived home, I required a big daily dose of seed tea in order to function as a human being. I found myself in pretty much the same bind as the subject of my story. I trawled shopping centres for spice shops, delis… tested different brands… and eventually found an Asian supermarket which could service my needs, selling kilogram bags of the most potent seeds.
Jenny, to her annoyance, would find them scattered throughout the house. Though I did my best to confine my tea-making to the laundry, the tiny seeds have a tendency to get into everything. In the garden, wherever I tossed the wet used-up seeds, a thick grass of seedlings emerged. [They are quite fertile, despite what you may have heard. To my understanding irradiation is used - but in their breeding programme to force mutation.]
Unfortunately the supply was limited. Over the weeks it became increasingly difficult to find seeds that worked. After a little research on the internet, I learned that the Tasmanian poppy companies were successfully breeding for high thebaine levels, [rather than morphine]. Thebaine is used as base for the new generation of opiates that includes buprenorphine, and is more valuable to the pharmaceutical industry than morphine. Thebaine it isn’t much fun to ingest. The only noticeable effect is a mild headache.
I think that’s what happened to my seed supply. Too much thebaine. Not enough traditional opium. After a last few desperate shopping trips to unfamiliar suburbs and obscure ethnic enclaves, I at last relented and once more, sadly, became a hollow-eyed slave to buprenorphine, [this time with a naloxone chaser in the form of Suboxone].
In the yard, a few of the poppies have survived into the summer. They are a joy to behold - with their beautiful purplish flowers and their nodding grey-green pepper pots ...
Useful technical notes:
For someone with no opiate tolerance, 300-500g of the good Tasmanian poppy seeds is sufficient. If these are unavailable it might just be worth tracking down the New Zealand kind, which I once had; they are weaker - but I guess you could double the dose.
Make a funnel out a sheet of paper and use it to pour the seeds into a plastic drink bottle [a litre is about the minimum size for this]. The seeds are very fiddly, so the funnel is a good idea.
Then add cold water to well above the level of seeds, close and shake. Let it rest for half an hour, shaking occasionally if you wish. Then use a rubber band to fix a square of chux over the opening, pour and squeeze.
If it's good it will taste heavy and bitter. With the rise of the thebaine mutants, though, bitterness cannot be used as a guarantee that it will work. If it's not bitter, then your seeds have been washed and you won't feel much.
Generally, you'll feel the effect between twenty minutes and half an hour after drinking the tea.
If you're onto a good thing, it can be worth doing a second wash.
A pity good seeds are hard to find. If used sensibly, they can obviate the need for methadone, pharmacies, doctors and all the rest ...
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