After a video was released of Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus smoking the legal plant salvia, Sen. John Flanagan is calling for the banning of its sale.
The video, which can been found all over the Internet, shows the star of Disney's Hannah Montana smoking salvia out of a bong at a party earlier this month.
"As someone who is a role model for millions, the video of Miley Cyrus allegedly smoking salvia has made the public more aware of the dangers posed by this legal substance, and I am hopeful it will inspire the Assembly to join me in fighting to ban its sale in New York state," said Flanagan, R-East Northport. "This is a gateway drug that is known to adversely affect people with the possibility of causing long-term damage and we need to get it off the shelves of our community."
Salvia divinorum, also known as diviner's sage, sister salvia, ska maria pastora and salvia, is a psychoactive plant from the mint family currently available on the Internet and in stores without age restriction.
Flanagan said that according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, salvia is chewed or smoked to induce illusions and hallucinations described by users as similar to those induced by ketamine, mescaline or psilocybin. It is currently under review by the medical and scientific community to determine if it should be classified as a controlled substance.
The long-term effects are still being determined, but the National Drug Intelligence Center has indicated that it's similar to those produced by other hallucinogens and includes depression and schizophrenia. Some abusers indicate that long-term use can cause hallucinogen persisting perception disorder or persistent "flashbacks." Numerous individuals report experience negative effects during their first experience and indicate they will not use it a second time. Some report that the drug makes them introverted and unable to communicate.
Flanagan said he is drafting a bill that would ban the sale of the substance in New York and would subject violators to a $500 civil penalty per violation. This legislation would also ban the sale of synthetic marijuana products that are currently being sold in stores. The senator said he has tried to get similar legislation passed before.
"While it is called 'fake pot,' the reality is that it is just as powerful as the illegal drug, and it is completely unregulated in our state," said Flanagan. "We need to bring the fight against drugs to the stores that sell this dangerous product so that we can stop the senseless cycle of drug abuse that is invading our streets and our communities."
These synthetic drugs, which are labeled K2, Spike 99, Spice and other names, are a mixture of herbs and spices that are laced with a powerful psychotropic drug or synthetic chemicals that mimic the effect of getting high on marijuana.
The chemicals are reported to have some dangerous side effects. It has been reported by those using them that they can induce hallucinations, vomiting, agitation, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and other adverse conditions. The DEA included the synthetic chemicals on its list of drug chemicals of concern. The chemicals would be banned under Flanagan's legislation. They have never been tested for safety in humans as they were created for experimental use in animals and cell cultures.
"The federal government has left it up to the states to regulate these substances, and we have a responsibility to get these dangerous drugs out of the stores in your state," the senator said. "These substances are dangerous, they are gateways to further drug use and, unfortunately, they are legal. That is why I am going to work to get both of these proposals passed again in the Senate, and I urge the members of the Assembly to join me in this important fight."
By Caitlin Farrell
December 20, 2010