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A rural Pella man who pleaded guilty earlier this year of making opium from poppy plants was put on probation for two years Friday.
Al Yang, 70, who described himself as a medicine man in his home country of Laos, could have spent up to 10 years in prison or been fined up to $50,000.
Last summer, authorities found 22,000 opium poppy plants on Yang's property. It was the largest seizure of opium poppies in Iowa that state drug officials can remember. Opium poppies, which can be used to make heroin, are illegal in the United States.
Judge Dale Hagen cited Yang's age and lack of criminal history when he ordered probation and entered a deferred judgment, which means the crime will be erased from Yang's record if he stays out of trouble, Marion County's assistant prosecutor, Doug Eichholz, said.
Eichholz had recommended three years of probation and a suspended prison sentence, which would have left the felony on Yang's record. He said didn't request more than probation, however, because he couldn't disprove the man's explanation that he extracted the oil from the plants to make medicine for the animals he kept on his acreage.
Drug charges against Yang's wife, Xay Vue , 53, and daughter, Samantha, 40, were dropped as part of Yang's plea agreement in February, court records show.
The women were not proven to be involved in scoring the pods, a technique used to harvest the oil. Besides being the unrefined source of heroin, opium is used to make morphine and various prescription pain medications.
Quote: veggie said: Opium poppies, which can be used to make heroin, are illegal in the United States.
I thought they were just frowned upon or illegal only if you knew how to make opium, which come to think of it sounds kinda weird...
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