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Growing poppies in Alberta

Growing poppies in Alberta

One company hopes to capitalize on an untapped industry in Canada

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Lethbridge, Alta. company wants to introduce a new crop to farmers’ rotations.

Since about 2007, API Labs has been trying to develop a type of poppy for use in different industries.

The company secured government funding for research and has created the Viola poppy that can be used for its seeds or as a potential biofuel.

The next step in the commercialization process is changing some of the language surrounding poppies in Canada.

API Labs requires either an exemption to Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or an actual change to the legislation that would put Canada in line with countries like Spain, Turkey and France where farmers can grow poppies legally.

Commercial production of poppies in Canada is currently illegal because they can be used to make narcotics including heroin. The crop is also used to make pharmaceutical drugs.

Members of Alberta’s provincial government support the new ag endeavor.

If the federal government can treat poppies the same way it treats hemp, it could be a way to overcome this obstacle, said Roger Reid, the MLA for Livingstone-Macleod.

“Similar to the way that Health Canada has diversified classifications for cannabis and hemp related to THC concentrations, (API Labs is) looking for regulatory pieces which could allow them to do the same thing with the poppies,” he told Lacombe Online.

And now could be the opportune time for Alberta’s ag industry to add a new crop to the mix.

Given the uncertainty surrounding canola trade with China and other ag disputes, adding poppies to a crop rotation would give Canada a new product to sell.

“Looking at the road blocks we’re facing with canola right now with China, here’s opportunities for local growers to be able to quickly switch a crop over with high demand and an available market,” Reid said. has reached out to API Labs for comment.


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