NSW Poppy Industry

The NSW Government’s Poppy Industry Bill 2016 (the Act) and associated Poppy Industry Regulation 2017 (Poppy Regulations) has enabled a commercial alkaloid poppy industry to operate in NSW.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) regulates the cultivation, processing and movement of alkaloid poppy material in NSW under the Act.

Alkaloid poppies are grown to extract the valuable opiates they contain (such as morphine, codeine and thebaine) for use in producing pain-relieving therapeutic medicines, anti-addiction medication and palliative care.

The NSW Poppy Industry will strengthen Australia’s position as a reliable supplier of high quality raw materials for the global pharmaceutical industry.

If global demand continues to increase at its current rate, there is potential for the alkaloid poppy industry in NSW to be worth up to $100 million in 10 years.

The production of alkaloid poppies will be highly regulated at state, national and international levels, with licence conditions and guidelines providing clear and rigorous requirement for the industry.

There are high penalties for non-compliance, including fines of up to $11,000 for individuals or $55,000 for corporations, and imprisonment of up to 1 year.

Growing Poppies

Poppies cannot be grown in NSW without a valid contract with a licensed processing company and a cultivation license issued by the NSW Government and a valid contract.

For more information on growing alkaloid poppies, primary producers should refer to Alkaloid poppy production in NSW – becoming a grower (PDF, 504.61 KB).

Access to Poppy crops

A person cannot enter a poppy crop unless they are accompanied at all times by the licence holder, an employee of the licence holder or an authorised NSW Government inspector.

If you see any unusual or suspicious behaviour near poppy crops, please report it to the NSW Police.

More information

For further information about the alkaloid poppy industry in NSW, please call the NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety Licensing and Accreditation Services on 1300 552 406 or email poppies@dpi.nsw.gov.au

In the media

Relevant legislation

NSW Poppy Industry - Frequently Asked Questions

The NSW Government’s Poppy Industry Bill 2016 and associated list of Poppy Industry Regulation 2017 (Poppy Regulations) has enabled a commercial alkaloid poppy industry to operate in NSW.

Alkaloid poppies are grown to extract the valuable opiates they contain (such as morphine, codeine and thebaine) for use in producing pain-relieving therapeutic medicines, anti-addiction medication and palliative care.

Demand for these products is rapidly growing as their use becomes widespread due to our increasing, ageing global population.

If global demand continues to increase at its current rate, there is potential for the alkaloid poppy industry in NSW to be worth up to $100 million in 10 years.

Poppies have been cultivated for medicinal purposes in Australia since the 1970’s and we now produce about half the world’s opiates The licit poppy industry has been based in Tasmania for the past 40 years, however the industry has now expanded to the mainland (VIC, SA, NT).

Australia now produces about half the world’s opiates and has a reputation of providing clear and rigorous requirements for the industry.

The production of alkaloid poppies in NSW and supplying material derived from alkaloid poppies for the manufacture or production of therapeutic goods will be highly regulated by state, national and international levels, with licence conditions and guidelines providing clear and rigorous requirements.

The Act establishes rigorous and comprehensive compliance, reporting and audit processes to ensure accountability across the industry, and meet Australian obligations under the United Nations Single Convention for Narcotic Drugs 1961.

Producers interested in growing poppies in NSW will first need to have a contract in place with a poppy processor licensed in NSW.

Once a contract with a processor has been secured, a producer can then apply for a cultivation license.

Poppy crops could provide a new crop rotation opportunity for growers who are able to meet regulatory requirements.

For more information on growing alkaloid poppies, primary producers should refer to our Alkaloid poppy production in NSW - becoming a grower fact sheet (PDF, 504.61 KB).

Effective controls need to be in place to protect the community from the crop as it yields dangerous substances.

In the 40 years licit poppies have been grown in Australia there have been 5 deaths related to unauthorised cultivation and misuse of poppies. Growth of licit (legal) poppies should not be confused with illegal poppy industries in some countries which produce heroin.

Signs will be placed at gates and around the boundaries of a crop, with the warning that entry is prohibited and illegal use of the crop may cause death.

Any unusual or suspicious behavior near poppy cultivation areas should be reported to NSW Police.

The opiates found in alkaloid poppies are potentially dangerous if misused.

Poppies grown in NSW can be extremely toxic due to the quantities of thebaine that they may contain. Alkaloid poppies may look identical to other poppy varieties and cultivars but they are chemically very different and can be highly toxic to humans.

Thebaine in its raw form is a toxic opiate alkaloid and only laboratory testing can confirm the quantities present. The well-known opiate alkaloid morphine may also be present in poppies, however it is impossible to identify which ones with the naked eye and misuse of morphine can have serious consequences.

Symptoms of thebaine poisoning include life-threatening convulsions, sensitivity to light, sound and touch, frantic pacing and muscle tremors. At high doses, thebaine and morphine intoxication can cause death.

Illegal possession of poppy plant parts of substances derived from poppies is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

It will still be illegal to take, use, sell or grow poppies without a licence from the NSW Government.

Any ingestion of poppy plants should be treated as an emergency – call 000 immediately for an ambulance.

A person cannot enter a poppy crop unless they are accompanied at all times by the licence holder, an employee of the licence holder or an authorised DPI inspector.

Any unusual or suspicious behavior near poppy cultivation areas should be reported to NSW Police.

Poppy crops are grown in various locations across regional NSW. As a result, employees of councils, utility services (water authorities and telecommunication or energy companies) and emergency services may encounter poppy crops in the course of their business.

If an employee of a local authority or utility service needs to enter land on which poppies are grown, they must first contact the licence holder to arrange access. If the licence holder cannot be contacted, the employee should call the the NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety Licensing and Accreditation Services on 1300 552 406.

Emergency services employees should also contact the licence holder before entering poppy crops, unless there is an emergency situation or similar circumstance.

Any ingestion of poppy plants should be treated as an emergency – dial 000 immediately for an ambulance.

For further information about the alkaloid poppy industry in NSW, please call the NSW Biosecurity and Food Safety Licensing and Accreditation Services on 1300 552 406 or email poppies@dpi.nsw.gov.au