Salvia Divinorum Crackdown Imminent?

This news report looks at the growing mood in the U.S. to legislate against the legality of Salvia divinorum, a powerful psychoactive herb originally used by Mazatec shamans. The article provides balanced opinion on the matter, with input from banning activists, law enforcement, and proponents of thoughtful Salvia usage such as Daniel Siebert:

Siebert said users will experience varying degrees of impact, depending partly on dosage and how the drug is consumed. Salvia, whose active component is “salvinorin A,” is an herb in the mint family.

“Salvia has much to offer: fascinating psychoactive effects, sensual enhancement, magical journeys, enchantment, apparent time travel, philosophical insights, spiritual experiences and perhaps even healing and divination,” Siebert says in his user’s guide.

The manual warns that salvia should be used only by adults in a “thoughtful, intelligent manner,” and that a companion should be present if a user is taking doses high enough that he or she might “freak out, become confused, injure (himself), fall, or do anything that might harm others.”

Siebert said salvia’s visionary effects typically resemble a dream, with users not feeling like they are under the influence of a drug.

SD has been illegal here in Australia for a number of years, but it remains legal in most other parts of the globe. I’ve been wondering how long it would take for at least the U.S. to take moves against it – it really is quite potent in its effects on reality perception, so much so that anybody who approached it as a ‘good time, party drug’ could get a bit broken in the head (in my opinion) – see the Erowid.org Salvia experience page for a feel of what to expect. It is important to note though that there seems to be little physical risk involved in usage – the psychological effects are the problem.

So, again there’s the difficulty in how to approach it. I have strong opinions about legislating against personal interactions with natural plant stimulants, particularly those that have long cultural histories (such as through shamanistic techniques). On the other hand, the current climate is just asking for problems, with SD being sold online to people without any warnings as to its effects, ostensibly as a ‘party drug’. Perhaps it should be more about restrictions, rather than making it illegal.

To give a little more information on the topic for those interested, I’ve posted the Salvia divinorum episode from the Sacred Weeds documentary series here on TDG (which also features Daniel Siebert, who submits himself as a test subject).