Everett, WA asked in Criminal Law, Agricultural Law and Internet Law for Washington

Q: Is it illegal to have a poppy pod as part of your artwork?

I have an etsy shop and listed a handmade box and book with flower seeds. It focuses on Papaver somniferum common names are Opium Poppy, breadseed poppy. Etsy took it down today saying poppy pods and poppy straw are prohibited. I don't want to argue with them but is this just etsy or is selling a dried poppy pod (attached to an art piece with no sap present) I see the pods often in floral arrangements and there is no way you can extract anything to produce a drug. I'm really confused about the law on this.

1 Lawyer Answer

A: Most likely it's a subjective determination by Etsy about inclusion of a prohibited item in the product. Clearly, they appear to be taking things a bit far in this regard, but it's Etsy's platform, and therefore its terms of service (or terms of use, etc.) may empower it with the ability to remove listings that violate the terms.

Without having reviewed the terms, I suspect they may include a prohibition on selling or promoting drugs, or drug-related items. While I think you recognize that the natural form of a flower which has not been sufficiently refined into a drug is neither illegal under the law nor a precursor to someone using it to make the drug--your best bet is to simply plead your case with them that they are taking things a bit too far. Perhaps educate Etsy on just how many Poppy pods are necessary to create any useable drug (or whether they need to be living in order to produce the sap/extract to create the drug), so that your comparison between what's truly drug related and what is art demonstrates that yours is the latter, and further shows that Etsy's decision is simply overreaching and unreasonable.

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