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Will Toronto NRI go to jail for possessing "DODE"?

Brampton, Dec. 26, 2008
Raj and Gary Singh/LA
By J. Gill, Windsor

Few months ago, Canadian Morality Bureau officers raided Ashwani Bhangal's store-Nath Meat and Chicken Deli on Sandalwood Parkway and seized more than $10,000 worth of opium pods along with 38.4 kg of dode. He was charged with three counts of drug trafficking and one count of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The police has sent dode to Health Canada for analysis to determine the level of opiate in the powder.

Canada Law says if any poppies that do not produce opium are legal in Canada, but all parts of the opium poppy are prohibited including the husk. Opium is typically made from resin scraped off immature seed pods.

  • Health Canada (Canada's equivalent of the FDA), has said:
    • The drug is clearly illegal, it is still being sold openly in flea markets, smaller grocery stores and meat shops.
    • Any substance containing opium poppy is illegal.
  • Regardless of the results of the dode testing, Patterson said police allege pure opium was being sold from the store.

Facchini has studied opium poppy for more than 16 years. He said most Canadians who grow opium poppies, which differ from oriental poppies, don't know they are illegal.

Keep in mind, most of the NRIs know that it is commonly used in India and it is illegal there. Health Canada about the latest legal status of doda, it didn't get a reply until days after the publication of this story. Health Canada replied to say doda is considered a derivative of the opium poppy and, as such, is prohibited under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

According to our survey in Brampton, Ontario, where majority of the NRIs in truck driving profession and owners of trucking industry, near about 40-50% use dode. Most of the NRIs who buy dodes are employed and have young families. Dode is said to help them stay awake.

If it is taken in large quantities, breathing problems that can be fatal. Dode is highly addictive and gives users a brief high followed by a sense of calmness. Symptoms include mood swings, constipation, impotence and body aches. Certain changes occur at the level of cell receptors in the brain. Any attempt to reduce the dose or an effort to stop the drug gives rise to severe withdrawal symptoms which at times are life threatening.

NRI doctor in Malton, near airport said he has 10-15 male NRI patients coming in with serious addictive symptoms after lengthy use of "dode". According to local news paper, Dr. Kuldip Kular, the MPP for Brampton-Gore-Malton-Springdale and a physician, said community members have asked him several times to push for a ban on dode. NRI Surinder Singh said, he had heard a discussion on radio show several times, with callers confessing to using dode because it makes them feel good and lets them work long hours.

The drug can sell for as little as one dollar per gram and is taken with tea.

Expert says the dode do not have enough opiate powder to lay a charge. Most of the sellers are under the impression that it was legal to sell. There is a perception amongst politicians and police that the powder must contain a certain level of opiates, evidenced by lab analysis, to make it illegal. Who knows NRI Ashwani Bhangal will go jail or not?



Brampton Coun. Vicky Dhillon wants a full-scale ban on the sale of doda in Canada. (Priya Sankaran/CBC)

  • City councilor in Brampton, Ontario, is pushing to have dode banned from sale. While addictions to other poppy-derived drugs like heroin can demand hundreds of dollars a day to feed, heavy dode users may spend as much as $40.
  • According to Dhillon, he has seen "long lineups of people and they don't want to give you their names because they're feeling embarrassment, shame. They are buying that cheap drug and what they going to tell to their kids and their wives?"