Cannabis, Coca, & Poppy:
Nature’s Addictive Plants

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

- Albert Einstein

Cannabis Coca Opium Poppy


Nature is rich in diversity. There are many different botanicals that have many different uses. Mankind has long sought to harness plants for a variety of purposes. Scientists have conducted research to discover new medicines and cures from plants across the globe.

For centuries there has been cultivation of cannabis, coca, and the opium poppy. From the opium poppy has come morphine drips in hospitals, from the coca plant has come cocaine which is used in certain medical surgeries, and from the cannabis plant has come various hemp products. While these plants have provided useful products, they are also among nature’s most addicting and potentially deadly plants. This exhibit provides an overview of these “Big Three” addictive plants.

There is a constant search for medicines that will improve the quality of life, manage or alleviate pain, and cure diseases. Botanicals are one source for those medicines. They can also be sources for other products and chemicals. Some plants have many serious side effects. With cannabis, coca, and the opium poppy, the challenge is a balance between using the products from the plant for their intended use in a safe manner, while avoiding the illegal use and abuse that has had so many detrimental effects on society over the centuries.

Learn. Discover. Understand. Explore.

  • Learn about the history of these three plants and their cultivation for use.

  • Discover the science behind their effects on various parts of the body.

  • Understand the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) across the globe to make available enough of the plant’s products to meet America’s legitimate needs, while battling the illegal trafficking of the drugs.

  • Explore the potential consequences of their misuse. Cannabis, coca, and poppy are indeed among nature’s most addictive plants.