Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Psychedelically Fresh Breath

And so the countdown begins. How long will it take the DEA to list Salvia divinorum, the newly popular hallucinogenic herb from Mexico, as a controlled substance? That depends on how well-known it becomes. If it were not for national news attention from organizations like ABC News, it might have had a chance of staying legal indefinitely. But of course that's hardly possible now. All it takes is one e-commerce pioneer spamming Hotmail with a subject line that reads "The New LSD!!!! Totally legal high!!!!!!!" and the humble plant's fame is assured. As with LSD itself, the idle attentions of the non-drug using public rarely contribute positively to the future of a controlled substance.

Ethnobotanist Daniel J. Siebert seems to be more optimistic about the potential of this member of the mint family, however: "If you choose to pursue a relationship with this plant please treat it with respect and care. Perhaps if people can use the plant safely and responsibly it will be able to grow and thrive freely into the future." Ignoring for a moment the cloying hippie talk of 'pursuing a relationship' with the plant, I find it hard to understand that he would actually believe this. As the prohibition of marijuana makes painfully clear, the trigger for prohibiting a substance in this country has nothing to do with negative health impacts and everything to do with the ability of the government to fit it into a selective and emotionally defined category. If it's pleasantly mind-altering and not patented by a pharmaceutical company, it belongs in the Just Say No category.

Keep an eye out for DEA press conferences. The clock is ticking.

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