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Scored opium poppy plant. Opium (poppy tears, lachryma papaveris) is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine. The traditional method of obtaining the latex is to scratch (score) the immature seed pods (fruits) by hand; the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky yellowish residue that is later scraped off the fruit. The modern method is to harvest and process mature plants by machine. The production of opium itself has not changed since ancient times. Opium for illegal use is often converted into.
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