Legislators plan to add Salvia to the drug war [MN]

By chillinwill · Feb 5, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Minnesota lawmakers are looking to add another drug to the list of targets in the war on drugs. A bipartisan bill (HF 484) is up for consideration in the Minnesota House that would make Salvia divinorum, frequently called Salvia, a Schedule I controlled substance in Minnesota, making sales and possession of the plant a crime. Ironically, the plant that would be labeled an illegal drug is showing promise in the medical community as a potential treatment for drug addiction.

    A largely Republican slate of legislators have signed on to a bill to make the drug illegal. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead authored the bill. The lone DFLer, Rep. Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights, joins Republican Reps. Steve Smith of Mound, Paul Marquart of Dilworth and Tony Cornish of Good Thunder.

    Salvia has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of southern Mexico and only recently has it come into use in the United States. It’s closely related to garden variety salvia species.

    Most users of the legal herb smoke it. Rupert Cartman, 22, of Minneapolis, said he’s tried it a few times. “I didn’t get much out of it… by itself that is.” He bought a big bag of it when on vacation in south Florida. “I smoked it, and it tasted really gross…and then I got a little light headed, so I lay down on the ground and it sort of felt like I was floating,” said Cartman. “It wasn’t like a marijuana high at all. It was like a catatonic feeling with a little bit of floating.”

    Most users report that the high, which lasts about five minutes, has a dissociative effect — a feeling of being outside one’s body. Some people report hallucinations, but nearly all say the experience was as brief as it was profound.

    “I don’t think all narcotics should be legalized by any stretch of the imagination,” says Cartman. “If Minnesota wants to prohibit something far more harmful than Salvia, they should ban fast food and alcohol first.”

    And the quest to ban Salvia is something that is beginning to concern the medical community. The active chemical in Salvia, Salvinorum A, is novel, meaning scientists haven’t seen anything like it. It’s a kappa opioid receptor agonist, which means it acts on a part of the nervous system that controls addiction. Salvinorum A also has a low toxicity unlike other kappa opioid receptor agonists, and for that reason, scientists hope it might be a breakthrough not only for treatment for addiction but also for illnesses like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia where the same receptors may play a role.

    Thirteen states have already banned the sale and possession of Salvia and the federal government is exploring making the drug a Schedule I substance. Minnesota’s proposed law would make possession of Salvia a crime punishable to up to 41 months imprisonment and up to a $100,000 fine.

    The push to prohibit Salvia comes at a time when Minnesota lawmakers are considering repeal part of the prohibition of another plant, marijuana, because of emerging evidence of therapeutic medical benefits. Will Minnesota be having the same debate about Salvia 20 years from now?

    By Andy Birkey
    2/5/09 8:46 AM
    The Minnesota Independent

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  1. fnord
    My state tried something like this,People educated the lawmakers and went to the decision meetings and voiced there opinion. We now only have laws against selling salvia to minors instead of it being totaly outlawd.
  2. Greenport
    And you know what, that's exactly the way it should be :) Minors shouldn't have access to that any more than they have (legitimate) access to tobacco.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Salvia ban a burn to science
    A baseless drug prohibition would stifle a unique strain of medical research.

    If H.F. 2975 (companion S.F. 2773) authored by Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, becomes law, Minnesota will ban the sale of the psychedelic herb Salvia divinorum and criminalize its possession as a misdemeanor offense. Lanning has authored a separate House bill which would make salvia a Schedule I controlled substance.

    Research on salvia has been increasingly popular. According to Dr. Bryan Roth at Case Western Reserve University, salvia is “the most potent naturally-occurring hallucinogenic drug.” By 2006, studies had suggested that its primary active ingredient, salvinorin A, could lead to treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

    As far as drugs go, salvia does not appear to be particularly dangerous. No long-term negative outcomes have been reported from its use. There have been no reported cases of addiction in the scientific literature as the drug can be unpleasant. In one case, salvia brought on persistent psychosis, but no one is recorded as dying because of salvia in either the U.K. or the United States. These realities don't trip up Rep. Lanning: a drug war is good politics.

    In 1986, then President Ronald Reagan declared that drug users are “as dangerous to our national security as any terrorist.” Unfortunately for the humanity's more rational endeavors, such dogma is alive and well. Clearly, certain lawmakers are willing to criminalize a substance in order to score political points among unduly terrorized parents. But bans like this serve another purpose: the maintenance of law and order, or more accurately, the maintenance of the politically-valuable misbelief that drug criminalization aids in our national security.

    If this strategy is a reality, one would expect drug policy to reflect a less-than-accurate level of danger. A growing body of research suggests some Schedule I drugs like marijuana, ecstasy or the well-studied lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are actually less risky than Schedule II counterparts like methamphetamine or morphine. With respect to mortality, these drugs are safer than alcohol and tobacco. Our drug schedule is nonsense, and it impedes scientific research.

    MDMA, or “ecstasy” as it is known on the street, was finding increasing currency among couples’ therapists when it was made a Schedule I substance by congress in 1985, against the request of researchers and psychologists. Washington proved unable to take expert opinion any more seriously than a junkie's. Today, it's Lanning turn to get a drug war fix.

    Representative Lanning, on unsolicited behalf of Minnesota’s largest public research university, these bills exemplify the incurious. Thank you for reminding us how useful the opportunists find a fear-driven politics.

    PUBLISHED: 03/25/2010
    The Friday editorials format features two distinct opinions on a contentious topic in order to provide broader commentary. Friday editorials do not represent the collective opinion of the Editorial Board.

  4. phenythylamine
    Minnesota senate approves salvia ban


    Minnesota may be poised to join the ranks of 17 other states that have passed legislation prohibiting the sale and possession of the hallucinogenic drug salvia.

    The Minnesota Senate approved a bill Monday that would impose penalties on distributors and users in possession of the psychoactive substance. The House bill is awaiting approval.

    The drug has gained notoriety for its controversial side effects and availability. Salvia is available for sale at head shops across the state and is known to trigger intense hallucinations where users enter a “dreamlike” state that can last for up to 15 minutes.

    State experts and law enforcement officials testified at a recent House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee meeting about the proposed legislation.

    Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the chief author of the House bill, told the committee that the issue was first brought to his attention by Moorhead police Chief David Ebinger.

    “I think it provides a gateway to using other illicit substances to kids who find it through school,” Ebinger said.

    Seventeen states have outlawed the drug, and 10 are considering a ban, Lanning said.

    Salvia is not currently regulated in any way on the federal level — something Carol Falkowski, director of the alcohol and drug abuse division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, attributed to a lack of evidence of its risks.

    “They don’t have a preponderance of evidence about the negative consequences,” she said, supporting the bill.

    However, students, scientists and head shop employees stand divided on the issue.

    “It’s fairly harmless,” said Gregorio Cervantes, a board member for the University of Minnesota’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “Compared to other hallucinogenic drugs, it’s very short term.”

    But Wally Sakallah, owner of Hideaway, a head shop in Dinkytown, said that after seeing some of the affects firsthand, he would support a ban on the product.

    Sakallah was one of the first vendors to introduce salvia in the state of Minnesota earlier in the decade.

    “We used to let people try it in the store when we first got it. One guy tried to [crawl] underneath my cooler,” Sakallah said.

    Steve Johnson, an employee at Uptown’s Peacemakers, said he thinks the risks of salvia are largely exaggerated.

    Johnson, who has used salvia, said he considers the drug to be “self-regulating.”

    “Most people who do it don’t end up ever doing it again,” Johnson said.

    A 2006 University of Florida study surveyed thousands of undergraduate students on their knowledge of salvia. While the study didn’t note the number of users, it found only 22 percent of students had heard of salvia. Among the students who reported they had used the drug, more than half said they wouldn’t use it again.

    Some researchers and scientists around the country have discovered medical benefits in salvia’s primary ingredient, Salvinorin A, that could lead to treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

    Cervantes stressed concerns he had about the implications of criminalizing the drug, warning that the illegality could appeal to more users and ultimately lead to increased demand.

    Cervantes also said punishing those who use it could result in more taxes.

    “It’s going to be a loss to taxpayers, because we’re going to be paying for the incarceration of people getting arrested for this,” he said.

    2010 / 03 / 29
    By Raghav Mehta

  5. crounch
    Fortunately to them salvia is not easy to use (except the expensives extracts). It stays a potent stuff and they shouldn't can get it (like all the rest).
    Even tobacco -which is hard stuff in fact !

    I'm shocked to see this stuff is presented like a harmless marijuana joint...
  6. Killa Weigha
    Where would we be if cave men made fire illegal just because they didn't know how it worked? The ignorance is palpable.
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