Salvia’s Popularity May Thwart Medical Use -

The Times reports that with rising popularity, including user videos on YouTube, lawmakers around the country are starting to crack down on hallucinogenic salvia. One Texas legislator was so shocked by the videos that he introduced a bill banning the substance. Mind you, the DEA hasn’t been able to come to a decision after 10 years of research over whether to add this herb to its portfolio of controlled substances, but state legistlatures are moving ahead anyhow. The problem is that researchers believe the active hallucingenic compound has a lot of pharmaceutical potential, at the very least for derivative drugs.

What’s most interesting though is the logic behind the legalistic reactions. Neither the DEA nor the Department of Justice - not exactly bastions of ravers and hippies - have come down in favor of criminalizing salvia. The military hasn’t prohibited it’s use. The article claims that most users try it only once because of its strong effects. And yet a series of videos - hardly beyond the antics of legally drunk college students - is warrant for prohibition?

The Times reports two instances of death both linked to salvia use, a depressed teenager who committed suicide following salvia use and a middle aged man who [accidentally] shot himself to death while tripping on salvia. In the first instance, the coroner listed salvia as a contributing factor to the boy’s death. But if in the same instance alcohol had been the drug of choice it is unlikely there would be a call to likewise prohibit alcohol. Societal constraints notwithstanding, the focus would have remained on the sufficient factor, which was depression. The Delaware legistlature passed a bill banning salvia following the death. Unknown whether the same legislature earmarked state funds for mental health initiatives.

I’d love to see saliva become popular, almost mainstream, just for the comparative data its use might yield. We could compare salvia users with marijuana users and drinkers, and see what kind of damage is really done to users’ health and to society. If kids are going to try hallucinigens it makes a lot more sense to allow them a high with short duration, no side effects, and little chance of additional use rather than something like LSD or…