The morning glory is a genus of predominantly perennial flowers, common in both household gardens and in kitchens across the globe. However, morning glories are not harvested simply for their beauty or their culinary use. The seeds of the morning glory contain the dangerous drug, lysergic acid (LSA) which is well known in the medical community for its hallucinogenic qualities. Users extract the seeds to create the popular illicit drug lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD. Loopholes and lax enforcement of laws governing the use and ingestion of morning glory seeds lead to widespread ease in obtaining seeds for illicit purposes.
As with paver somniferous -- the opium poppy -- is it technically illegal to sell and possess morning glory seeds for any purpose other than extracting LSA. However, police rarely enforces this law for individuals who buy, plant, grow and cook with any part of the morning glory flower, including the seeds, with no intent to extract LSA.
Lysergic acid and lysergic acid amide are both classified as Schedule III drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that the drugs contained in the morning glory seed are acknowledged and controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). LSA and LSD are both considered "drugs... with a limited immediate ancillary purpose," meaning there is at least one accepted legitimate medicinal use, when paired with another pharmaceutical treatment, for both drugs in the medical community and the use and application of the drug is restricted to the medical purposes defined by the DEA.
Growing morning glory flowers in a household garden, including harvesting seeds for replanting or resale, cooking parts of the flower and using the flower in arrangements or other crafts is generally permitted throughout the United States. It is important to note, however, that possession of the morning glory flower and/or morning glory seeds is technically illegal, and thus, law enforcement can technically arrest and charge individuals with illicit intent.
Extracting Lysergic Acid
Any sale, purchase or possession of morning glory seeds with the explicit intent to extract LSA for the creation of LSD is a felony crime in the United States. What constitutes "intent" is not explicitly defined, allowing judgment on a case-by-case basis. However, possessing a large quantity of morning glory seeds or extractions thereof and/or possessing most of the tools needed to manufacture LSD is a practical standard for determining intent.
Any individual caught possessing or using morning glory seeds with the explicit intent to extract LSA to create LSD is subject to a maximum fine of up to £162,500 and maximum imprisonment of up to five years for the first offence. A second offence infraction carries a fine of up to £325,000 and up to 10 years in prison. A first offence committed by an organisation or other entity carries a fine of up to £0.6 million, and subject to fines of up to £1.3 million for each offence thereafter.
- 21 United States Code §812(c)(c)(9)
- 21 Code of Federal Regulations §1308.13
- 21 United States Code §812(b)(3)
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Federal Trafficking Penalties