Forget Colorado, stoners. The real frontier of narcotic edibles is in Shaanxi province, China. A restaurant owner there just confessed to police that to keep customers coming back, he had infused his noodles with 4.4 pounds of pulverized poppy buds—which can contain narcotics like morphine and codeine—that he bought in August for $98.
Apparently, it worked; the restaurant boss said customer numbers leapt after he started using his “special” seasoning. Chinese authorities say doses were enough to addict frequent diners, reports the South China Morning Post. Police launched an investigation only after one of the restaurant’s repeat customers tested positive for opiates in a routine urine screen.
But Zhang, the shop owner, wasn’t the first Chinese restaurateur to strike upon this idea—not by a long shot. An investigative report in 2011 found that illegal poppy products are available in Shaanxi markets—with restaurant owners being the prime customers.
In the opiate-dining market, however, Shanghai gives Shaanxi a run for its money. Just last May, a Shanghai restaurant owner was sentenced to 10 months in jail for zesting up soups with morphine. In March 2014, police jailed Shanghai restaurant owners for using Narceine, another poppy-shell opiate, to dope up a famous crayfish dish called xiaolongxia. In 2010, three Shanghai hotpot restaurants were shuttered for adding opiates.