The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is an herbaceous annual plant that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Apart from the value of poppy seed as a condiment and oil as an edible source or potential biofuel, the opium poppy produces a unique assortment of valuable alkaloid compounds called active pharmaceutical ingredients. For example, morphine, codeine, thebaine, oripavine and papaverine are several opioids produced by P. somniferum with high pharmaceutical value.
As of 2014, 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of poppies were grown globally for culinary and pharmaceutical purposes. Over 90% of this licit poppy cultivation occurred in eight countries including: Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Turkey and India. Because it is exceedingly difficult to convert poppies into narcotics, there has been an absence of criminal diversion According to the International Narcotics Control Board, a quasi-judicial branch of the United Nations which oversees the production of all narcotic materials, for nearly forty years, thousands of acres of poppies have been grown annually in Europe and Australia (Tasmania) without any serious diversion issues.