Salvia should stick around

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A while back, I heard that the media cesspool they call TMZ released some footage of Miley Cyrus smoking salvia, which of course, resulted in increased sales of the herb nation-wide. I felt a twist in my gut as I realized the inevitable implications. It comes as no surprise that weeks later I would read about the federal government planning to ban Salvia Divinorum. Still, I literally could not stop my fingers from trembling in anger as I continued to read the article.

First of all, I should mention that I am an occasional partaker in the herb. I have always been interested in psychedelics and the general scrutiny they receive from the public. I have researched psychoactive plants and entheogens in my free time (a high school cliché); I am by no means professional, so given this disclosure I ask you to form your own ideas on the subject and read mine with healthy criticism.

The weak claims that salvia is a dangerous substance stem greatly from the language media has used to represent it. Phrases such as “LSD-like”, “dangerously dissociated state”, and “most powerful natural psychoactive” are bound to raise a few eyebrows. People are all too familiar with the acid and ’shrooms horror stories of tripping hipsters running naked through the streets, jumping off buildings thinking they can fly, and becoming permanently brain-fried. While these are often mentally unstable outliers, it’s staggering how quickly these assumptions are being imposed on salvia. It isn’t surprising that the federal government is all over this.

In fact, the active compound in salvia is non-toxic and not chemically similar to any other hallucinogenic drug. In the brain, it is a k-opioid agonist, unlike LSD and Psilocybin, which react with serotonin receptors. It confuses me why they are being continuously compared when they are entirely different substances. 

The root of the problem may be the overly conservative values that are so deeply embedded in our ideologies. I am by no means taking a political standpoint; it is simply a well-known fact that the general public is wary of anything “new”. Parents are scared to death of their kids experimenting with drugs, and with good reason: most are too inexperienced to understand the experience. The best argument I can offer is that a pair of scissors in the wrong hands is just as dangerous. Parents, for the love of God, teach your kids about the risks involved with experimentation, what to do when something goes wrong, why you should avoid certain substances, and that you love them too much to see them get hurt. Kids always find these substances and if the drugs weren’t available, you’d find them in your basement smoking your nutmeg.

The way I see it, if salvia becomes illegal we are losing a little more freedom in a chaotic world that seems to take three steps backward for every one forward. When you leave out the fact that it is a recreational drug, it’s scary that the government is so quick to act against something it doesn’t fully understand. I hate to get philosophical, but the more you try to fit humanity into a box, the more it struggles to be free. We all have the drive to control our own lives, and I know there are people sick of having their world shaped by the near-sighted, paranoiac majority.

Andy Goodson
Contributor

2 comments

  1. Saskboy 22 March, 2011 at 09:05

    "it’s scary that the government is so quick to act against something it doesn’t fully understand."

    A little scary, but totally understandable. I only wish they felt the same way about the raft of toxic compounds they let people sell as cosmetics, food and drink containers, vaccine additives, and home products of all sorts. Permit it in something to be consumed when the substance is well understood. If there are willing lab rats, fine, let them volunteer for studies.

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