Two sentenced for 2010 opium poppy field bust

Tehal Bath of Abbotsford and Mandeep Dhaliwal of Mission received conditional sentences for farming the plants to be used for doda.

RCMP were on the scene of a bust of a poppy field in 2010 in Chilliwack.

The drug doda is similar to marijuana in terms of the harm it causes society compared to harder drugs, a provincial court judge stated Wednesday in his sentencing decision for a case that is the first of its kind in Canada.

Speaking in Chilliwack, Judge Roy Dickey gave Tehal Singh Bath, 33, of Abbotsford and Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal, 32, of Mission each a conditional sentence (house arrest) of two years less a day.

The two were arrested in 2010 in a large poppy field off Keith Wilson Road in Chilliwack that was being cultivated to produce doda – an opiate made from poppies into a fine powder used primarily by the South Asian population and consumed in tea or hot water.

Bath and Dhaliwal previously pleaded guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and production of a controlled substance.

Dickey said the case is the first one in Canada in which someone has been convicted of the production of opium poppies.

“This is an unusual case … in that it deals with a crop that is not common to this jurisdiction,” he said.

Expert testimony at the sentencing hearing in June estimated there were 558,000 poppy plants on the field where Bath and Dhaliwal were arrested after police executed a search warrant.

The field was estimated to be just over six acres, and the street value of the crop was estimated to be $1.6 to $4 million.

But Dickey said he believed those numbers were exaggerated because they didn’t take into account that some corn was also growing on the field and that there were areas where the poppies were growing sparsely.

Dickey said he believed the field was five acres in size, had 120,000 to 240,000 plants, and was worth approximately $120,000 to $240,000.

He referenced expert testimony that indicated doda is “about 10 per cent the potency of opium” and causes “significantly less” personal or societal harm than harder drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and meth.

Dickey said the sentence should be similar to what is given in marijuana convictions.

He said he also considered that neither accused had been the “operating mind” in the production of the poppies, both had been “deeply remorseful” of their actions, neither had a prior criminal record, and neither was at a risk to re-offend.

Bath is currently working as a blueberry farmer, while Dhaliwal delivers parcels and is hoping to go back to school.

“Other than his particular matter, they appear to be good members of the community,” Dickey said.

Conditions of their sentence include that they each complete 240 hours of community service, follow a daily curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and not have contact with each other except at a place of worship, while performing community service or in the presence of their lawyer.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mission man who nearly died from COVID-19 at Abbotsford hospital reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breath

Abbotsford author releases book of poetry and meditations

Sophia Campbell’s Hark Valley a depiction of her ‘spiritual journey’

Man wanted for ramming police car and almost hitting bystanders in Abbotsford

Police say Lorne Guilbault ‘engages in high-risk criminal driving behaviour’

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

Cooling stations to open in Mission

Once the temperature hits 29 degrees Celsius, the stations will open

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Wedding party bear sprayed at Okanagan campsite irks locals

Latest criminal activity at the Meadows leaves locals frustrated

Paramedics fired for allowing patient to crawl for treatment on Downtown Eastside: court documents

The man spent three days in intensive care and three months recovering in hospital from sepsis

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

Most Read