Once in a while, things happen and people scream and shout and raise hell about the drug war and I give credence to the thought that the situation is changing. Courts rule in slightly promising ways and states elect state representatives who vote to allow medical marijuana use and I get sucked into thinking that the prohibitionists are slowly losing ground.
And then the powers that be leap backwards, expanding prohibition.
Most readers have likely never heard of Salvia Divinorum. A member of the labiate (mint) family that possesses a hallucinogenic compound, Salvinorin A., the plant has been used for centuries by shamanic native peoples around Oaxaca, Mexico. Medically, the visionary sage has quietly been producing some startling results in clinical research, being used to treat various forms of depression.
Rather than staying the hell out of the way and allowing promising research on the plant to continue, government in its omniscience is doing what government does best: it is attempting a reactionary ban on what it doesn’t understand.
Were it not for the surge of internet vendors and a few cases of irresponsible use, Salvia, also known as Ska Pastora, would have likely remained in the quiet shadows of obscurity. Daniel Siebert, the worldwide expert on and chief proponent of the substance has called for government regulation (we can safely infer that this request is in the hope of avoiding an outright prohibition). Through a combination of guerrilla marketing and juvenile ignorance, salvia has been described as a legal marijuana substitute. This description is absolute nonsense as it is by no means a party drug or something one would use to relax.
Currently, Salvia is illegal to possess in Louisiana and Missouri. In the past few years several Congressional attempts to criminalize the substance have failed. The legislatures of Alaska (Senate Bill 313), Delaware (Senate Bill 259) and New Jersey (legislation penned by Assemblywoman Linda Stender is to be introduced next month) are currently attempting to outlaw the plant.
As usual, government has slipped in a steaming pile of error. None of the proposed legislation actual prohibits the active compound Salvinorin A, but rather the plant itself. Beyond the typical nonsensical nature of drug prohibition, one issue with this plant is that the laws will be even less enforceable than typical bans as salvia is nearly indistinguishable from the dozens of other sage varieties.
If government has its way, it is likely that, unlike marijuana, salvia’s medical capacities will never be fully realized. Even with such potential for healing, the state must always err on the side of nanny-ism.
Update by Artus Register: Salvia is supposed to be discussed on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN this evening. It starts at 10PM so the segment may be over. I just received the notification.
Update by Artus Register: I received the following Legal update from The Salvia Divinorum Research and Information Center yesterday. The news isn’t good: The pro-prohibition attitude in this country seems to be growing like cancer.
Delaware Senate Bill 259, which seeks to add Salvia divinorum to that state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances, has been passed by both the House and Senate. It is expected that Governor Ruth Ann Minner will sign it into law soon.
On February 15, 2006, Representative Park M. Strader introduced House Bill 2909 to the Tennessee State Legislature. It was later adopted as Senate Bill 3247. The bill creates the Class D felony offense of knowingly producing, manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to produce, manufacture, or distribute a material, compound, mixture, or preparation intended for human consumption which contains a hallucinogenic plant. Present law authorizes imprisonment for a Class D felony for not less than two years nor more than 12 years. In addition, a fine not to exceed $5,000 may be assessed, unless otherwise provided by statute. This bill authorizes a maximum fine of $20,000 for this offense. This bill also creates the Class E felony of knowingly possessing a material, compound, mixture, or preparation intended for human consumption that contains a hallucinogenic plant. Present law authorizes imprisonment for a Class E felony for not less than one year nor more than six years. In addition, a jury may assess a fine not to exceed $3,000, unless otherwise provided by statute. This bill authorizes a maximum fine of $5,000 for this offense. This bill would not apply to the possession, planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting of a hallucinogenic plant strictly for aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes. Further, this bill would not apply to any dosage that is legally obtainable from a retail establishment without a prescription when such compound is recognized by the FDA as a homeopathic drug. An amendment to the bill classifies the knowing production, manufacture, distribution, or possession of the active chemical ingredient in the hallucinogenic plant Salvia divinorum as a Class A misdemeanor. It would not be a criminal offense to possess, plant, cultivate, grow, or harvest Salvia divinorum for aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes. Also, this amendment does not apply to any dosage that is legally obtainable from a retail establishment without a prescription and that is recognized by the FDA as a homeopathic drug. On April 13, 2006, the amended version of the bill passed in the Senate (Ayes 29, Nays 0). To track the status of this bill, go to: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/