Last Updated: January 15, 2011
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Tasmania's legal opium trade
Tasmania's opium trade
The legitimate opium trade is now one of Tasmania's most profitable businesses.
-Multimillion dollar trade in legal opium
-Farmers must undergo strict police checks
-Poppy is a key component in medicinal opiates
WHILE governments around the world struggle to contain the illegal opium trade, hundreds of farmers in Tasmania are preparing to cash in on a multimillion dollar trade in legal opium.
The poppy is Tasmania's biggest export crop, and the industry regularly brings in millions of dollars for Tasmania.
While the trade is entirely legitimate, it is also tightly regulated, and farmers must undergo annual police checks if they want to have their licences renewed.
"If we have a drug offence or anything else to our name, you will not get a license to grow", grower Mike Badcock told Sky News.
Poppy is a key component in pharmaceutical painkillers such as opium, morphine, and heroin, and the tiny island currently supplies almost half of the world's medicinal opiates.
Tasmania has a climate that is particularly conducive to poppy cultivation, and the poppy plants are harvested and processed on the island.