Family fights to ban sale of unwashed poppy seeds after son’s death

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Three years ago this week an Arkansas man died after drinking tea made from poppy seeds he ordered online. The seeds are marketed as “natural” or “unwashed” but the family of Stephen Hacala says they were coated with deadly drugs.

Stephen Hacala’s father says, “I’m haunted by the knock on the door that we got on April 3rd, 2016.”

That was the day the family found out 24-year-old Stephen had died in his sleep.

“The three years have been horrible. Stephen was an amazing young man,” says Steve Hacala.

Stephen died from a morphine overdose after drinking tea made from the poppy seeds he ordered online.

They’re marketed as “raw” or “unwashed.” But that means residue from the rest of the poppy plant is left on the seeds. And researches have found some are coated with high levels of opiates like morphine and codeine.

After Stephen’s death, the Hacalas found nearly two dozen other fatal overdose cases that were traced back to poppy seeds.

They started working with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton to stop the sale of unwashed seeds. A year ago, their first step was to contact online retailers.

Steve Hacala says, “To date, they’re still selling these products.”

They also asked the FDA and Department of Justice to step in.

“They are working on the issue but I’m not willing to wait any longer,” says Sen. Tom Cotton R-Ark.

This week Cotton introduced a bill aimed at stopping unwashed poppy seeds from being sold in the U.S.

“This is a gap in our law,” says Cotton. “They shouldn’t be sold in our country.”

Betty Hacala says, “We’re trying very hard to protect future families.”

The Hacalas are now taking steps to make sure the law gets passed so that others don’t experience their pain.

Steve Hacala says, “He would have wanted us to take up this fight.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Stories

More Local News

Recent Videos

Amber's Friday Morning #OneMinuteForecast 7/3

Thumbnail for the video titled "Amber's Friday Morning #OneMinuteForecast 7/3"

Friday's forecast: Severe storm chances ramp up this evening

Thumbnail for the video titled "Friday's forecast: Severe storm chances ramp up this evening"

FURRY FRIENDS JULY 3

Thumbnail for the video titled "FURRY FRIENDS JULY 3"

NDC JULY 3

Thumbnail for the video titled "NDC JULY 3"

Babe Ruth Baseball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Babe Ruth Baseball"

Mandan Rodeo Days

Thumbnail for the video titled "Mandan Rodeo Days"

Northwoods League

Thumbnail for the video titled "Northwoods League"

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 - KX Storm Team Nightly Forecast - Dave Holder

Thumbnail for the video titled "Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 - KX Storm Team Nightly Forecast - Dave Holder"

July 4 COVID Safety Reminders

Thumbnail for the video titled "July 4 COVID Safety Reminders"

DJGA Golf

Thumbnail for the video titled "DJGA Golf"

WWII Veteran

Thumbnail for the video titled "WWII Veteran"

Travel Plans

Thumbnail for the video titled "Travel Plans"

PPP Extension

Thumbnail for the video titled "PPP Extension"

Vision Zero

Thumbnail for the video titled "Vision Zero"

Update on Grape Experiments

Thumbnail for the video titled "Update on Grape Experiments"

Fraternal Order of Police

Thumbnail for the video titled "Fraternal Order of Police"

Police Complaints

Thumbnail for the video titled "Police Complaints"

Licenses for Kids

Thumbnail for the video titled "Licenses for Kids"

Summer Theatre on FB

Thumbnail for the video titled "Summer Theatre on FB"

LGBTQ+ Same Sex Marriage Vote to Come

Thumbnail for the video titled "LGBTQ+ Same Sex Marriage Vote to Come"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss