Doda is an opium tea popular in South Asian communities here on the west coast, and among a few non-South Asians. It's ridiculously simple to make—get dried poppy bulbs (bought or grown), crush 'em up, add hot water, and presto! Opium tea.
People have been using doda for eons, both in Asia and in the United States. Just a few years ago, South Asian flower-vendors at Pike Place Market and farmers' markets openly sold bundles of dried poppies. (I've also heard stories about heroin addicts using opium tea as part of a home-reduction cure.)
But police have begun to crack down on its use in a string of busts from Washington state to British Columbia: a discount store in Bellingham that sold pods; a trucker busted in Bow, WA with over 100 pounds of pods; a massive poppy grow-operation (60,000 pods) in Canada.
Doda, like any opiate, is addictive—and addiction to anything can be painful and expensive and can alter your life in ways you don't like. But it's going to be interesting to watch the new crackdown (yet another drug prohibition in the United States) and see what happens.
Will people stop drinking opium tea? Or, now that it's off the open market and made more scarce by law enforcement, will it simply become a more expensive commodity for gangs to profit from? Signs point to the latter:
Doda was openly sold in ethnic markets for $10 to $20 per packet about two years ago, according reports received by Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains. He says constituents have told him the street value of doda has gone up since the RCMP starting cracking down on those involved in its sale.
Doda, a new drug on law enforcement's radar, might be a good test study of our general approach to drug law. If we let it remain cheap and available, will legions of new addicts appear? If we crack down, will we invent another violent underground economy for law enforcement to battle?
Let's pretend the answer to both questions is yes: leaving doda alone will create legions of new addicts, cracking down will create a violent black market. (Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that regulation and inspection could ensure that the pods aren't been harvested for heroin production, which isn't unrealistic—the grow-op bust in Canada showed no signs that the poppies were being harvested for anything but doda.)
In that case, which would you choose? New addicts to a cheap and readily available substance (like, um, certain other legal addictive substances) who might eventually need treatment? Or a new criminal underground?
And where would you prefer to see your tax money directed? To doda treatment or to doda enforcement?