BOULDER, Colo. –
A 19-year-old graduate of Fairview High School was found dead in a Boulder home Tuesday after drinking poppy-pod tea, brewed from the plant from which opium is derived, police said.
Jeffery Joseph Bohan, who graduated from Fairview in 2008, was found by his 21-year-old brother about 6 a.m. Tuesday in a friend’s home in the 4300 block of Hanover Avenue, Boulder police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said.
His cause of death has not been determined, and toxicology tests are pending, Boulder County Coroner Tom Faure said. Foul play is not suspected.
Witnesses told police the brothers drank the psychoactive tea together outside their Navajo Place home, then went to their friend’s house to play video games, falling asleep around 4 a.m., Huntley said.
Two hours later, the older brother found Bohan not breathing and called 911. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Family members and neighbors declined to comment Tuesday.
Bohan’s death is the second suspected poppy-tea fatality in Boulder this year. On Feb. 22, Alex McGuiggan, 20, was found dead inside his home in the 4300 block of Moorhead Avenue. The Coroner’s Office later determined he had ingested fatal quantities of opium from poppy tea brewed at his home.
“Poppy-pod tea is an opiate; it is dangerous,” said Jeanette Cunning, a detective with Boulder County’s Drug Task Force. “It seems like people think it’s pretty harmless. But it’s not an extremely well-known drug, and people don’t really know the effects of it yet.”
She said the tea is derived from sap created when grinding or cutting into the pod of a poppy flower, which contains psychoactive alkaloids including morphine and codeine. Users boil the ground or cut pods in water and drink the bitter-tasting tea, Cunning said.
Users report general feelings of calm and wellbeing, but overdoses can be fatal, according to the Web site www.poppies.org.
Cunning said even poppy seeds, like those found topping muffins or bagels, can be deadly if consumed in huge quantities.
Although the possession of poppy pods is legal, the manipulation of any part of the pod for ingestion is illegal, Cunning said.
The pods are sold through several Web sites. On Tuesday, the Internet auction giant eBay had poppy pods listed at $23.50 each.
The flowers also grow naturally, of course, and Mikey Yamazaki, a 19-year-old student at the University of Colorado, said he once tried to brew tea from pods collected off poppies growing on Boulder open space and yards.
Yamazaki said the drink tastes like weeds, and not very many people “do” it.
His friend, 22-year-old Robert Hewitt, said poppy-pod tea is not very well understood.
“The problem is, people are probably making (the tea) themselves and don’t know how strong it is,” said Hewitt, who was hanging out on University Hill on Tuesday and gave the Camera Yamazaki’s phone number.
The Drug Task Force has been investigating the prevalence and use of poppy-pod tea since the first Boulder death to better understand the drug, but have not released any findings from their investigations.
No arrests have been made in Tuesday’s death, which is still under investigation.