Pasco poppy farm owners face drug charges

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldNovember 2, 2012 

Owners of a Pasco poppy farm were arrested this week after one of them sold poppy seed pods, which contain narcotic substances, to undercover detectives for brewing tea to obtain a high.

Kenneth James French and Shanna Rene French, both 57, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. They have posted bail and are expected in court Nov. 6.

According to court documents, detectives from the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force and Law Enforcement Against Drugs task force purchased the seed pods in late August from Kenneth French at his home at 5100 Elm Road, which also is the site of his business, Dried Poppies Direct and Poppydog Farms.

Kenneth French told the detectives the poppies could be used to brew a tea that can give a feeling of "feeling good" or for "pain control" when consumed. He said the seed pods contain morphine, which is a controlled substance.

Kenneth French also told the detectives he sells the seed pods through his business for "ornamental purposes" "and that is my story, and I'm sticking to it."

The pods purchased by the detectives were tested by the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory and found to contain codeine, morphine and thebaine.

Kenneth French owns 15 percent of Poppydog Farms, and his wife, Shanna Rene French, owns 85 percent of the operation, according to the documents.

The Frenches have owned businesses in the Tri-Cities for years. They owned Jack-sons Sports Bar & Restaurant in Kennewick for five years before closing it in January. Before that, Kenneth French was a partner in insurance software company InStar Corp.

The Herald profiled the Frenchs' 40-acre poppy farm this summer. They said they had 2,400 customers across the country who they sold the seedpods to for craft and decorative purposes and seeds for people to grow their own poppies, with red, pink or white-and-purple blooms.

-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com

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