Salivating over salvia

American hypocrisy drives Canadian views

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Late this summer, my attention was brought to a London Free Press article concerning the drug salvia divinorum. As with most Free Press articles, the sensationalized accounts of community outrage and police worry couldn’t help but remind me of Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons.

But the article did pique my interest. The London Police Service was quoted as saying they were worried about a drug that could cause someone to “take the drugs and get struck by a car.” Would such actions be possible? Could it be that the Free Press had actually stumbled on an investigative article that held a grain of truth?

Not a chance. The article contained about as much truth as Nixon’s claims on Watergate.

I took the drug. I make no apologies for it, because it is legal. Granted, I don’t want to promote salvia’s consumption, but at the same time I think it’s important to educate people on what it actually is.

For one thing, salvia is not a “common garden herb,” as the Free Press would have you believe, unless your garden is in a remote area of Mexico.

As for the actual salvia experience, it is, as with most drug trips, difficult to describe. The high I obtained from the drug was relatively short " only about 15 minutes " and only five minutes were actually intense. The thought someone could take this drug and run into traffic, or get behind the wheel, is laughable. During the most intense part of the high, I was virtually strapped to the chair. I don’t think I could have moved, even if I wanted to.

This brings up a valid point " consumption of salvia should always be accompanied by a sober ’sitter. Thankfully, this was one thing the Free Press got right in their article.

What is most important to note is the Free Press recognizes tales of terrible drugs and other immoral practices sell papers, a behaviour encouraged by our neighbours to the south and their drug policy.

Salvia has recently been the victim of moral outrage in America; often times by those who are ill-informed through sensational media accounts.

The United States stands as possibly the most hypocritical of all Western nations when it comes to drug policy. As they proceed to lock up millions of citizens for possession of marijuana and throw billions of dollars at their “war on drugs” (how does one declare a war on an inanimate object?), they continue to send equal amounts of support to a bloated pharmaceutical lobby.

No, I’m not saying locking people up for possession of heroin and sending money to companies for cancer research are bad things, but let’s be serious. The value of ridding myself from the horror of “Restless Leg Syndrome” is no different from the value of locking up some poor kid who had some weed on him when he was stopped by the police. And for every low-income person in jail, you can bet there are just as many in the upper-middle class with a dependency on antidepressants or other such drugs to get through the day.

Until the U.S. can reconcile its inherent hypocrisy over the abuse of pharmaceuticals versus the dogmatic approach to all other mind-altering drugs, it will be difficult to have a sincere debate over the role of drugs in determining American domestic policy.

With salvia increasingly popping up in news stories, one can only wonder how long it will take for American-style drug policies to crop up north of the border.

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