MPs have called for a dangerous hallucinogenic drug linked to a teenage suicide to be outlawed.
Inhaling the herbal drug Salvia produces a ‘legal high’ which experts say mimics the effects of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and lasts up to ten minutes.
Salvia, known as Magic Mint or Sally-D, can be bought easily on the internet or shops which sell drug paraphernalia. Scientifically known as Salvia divinorum, it is derived from the mint plant.
In recent months, thousands of young people have posted footage of themselves smoking Salvia on YouTube. In one clip, a terrified young man drops to his knees and begins crawling on all fours; while another man is reduced to a mumbling wreck, muttering: ‘Excuse me, I have to go to space now.’
The Government is to investigate the social impact of Salvia, but has refused to include it on a list of ‘legal highs’ which will be banned this year.
In America, the drug was linked to the death of 17-year-old A-grade student Brett Chidester in 2006. His mother Kathleen has launched a campaign to ban the drug, and has succeeded in making it illegal in her home state of Delaware. She said: ‘Brett would be turning 21 on Wednesday, so it’s going to be a hard week for us.
‘He was fearless about trying Salvia. He first tried it in June and he was dead by January. I started noticing changes in his character. He wasn’t in a deep depression, but he wasn’t his usual happy-go-lucky self.
In his diary, Brett wrote: ‘Salvia allows us to give up our senses and wander in the interdimensional time and space. Our existence in general is pointless. We earthly humans are nothing.’
He killed himself by stepping into a tent in his father’s garage and lighting a charcoal grill, causing his asphyxiation as the oxygen ran out. His death certificate cites Salvia as a contributing factor.
There have been no recorded deaths in Britain but Professor Fabrizio Schifano, of the University of Hertfordshire, has warned it is ‘potentially very dangerous’ and could lead to psychotic episodes.
Student Jo Puddle, 19, from Kent, vowed never to use Salvia again after smoking it once. She said: ‘You don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are. That feeling is horrible. It lasts for about five minutes, but the fear stays with you for about half an hour. I would not recommend it. I’ve never heard of anyone who enjoyed it.’
Labour MP John Mann has spent four years lobbying the Government to ban Salvia. He said: ‘It certainly should be banned. It’s more dangerous than some drugs that are illegal.’
The Home Office said: ‘Salvia is not a controlled drug but it will form part of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’s consideration of so-called “legal highs”. We would consider any recommendation from the ACMD.’
By KERI SUTHERLAND
September 13, 2009