Salvia Neither ‘Party Drug’ Nor Threat

November 4, 2009

Salvia neither “party drug” nor threat

Travis Erbacher

Salvia Divinorum is a plant that has seen shamanic use as a visionary sacrament in Mexico and South America for centuries. It is a unique drug, as it is the only k-opioid receptor agonist, which has a strong hallucinogenic effect. Scientists have been very interested in researching the medicinal potential of the drug; however, due to growing hysteria surrounding salvia, that research may be cut short.

Salvia and its active ingredient, Salvinorin A, are currently being researched for unique anti-depressant properties, analgesic effects, as well as potential as a treatment for alcohol or narcotic addiction. Just as with the African plant psychedelic Ibogaine(which is one of the best available treatments for heroin and crack cocaine addiction), and LSD (which had a 50% success rate treating alcoholism in the 1950’s), and Psilocybin Mushrooms (which is one of the best treatments for cluster migraines), and MDMA (commonly known as Ecstasy, one of the most effective treatments for returning soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), the war on drugs continues to impede medical research.

It is being said that salvia is the latest craze; a new party drug that is addicting kids everywhere. Are we in the middle of a new drug epidemic? What is the truth about this little known plant?

Smoking Salvia brings on intense hallucinations and altered states of consciousness, and therefore has been compared to LSD. Unlike LSD, however, the effects of Salvia last only minutes rather than hours. The effects of the drug are unpleasant and the smoke tastes like a mix between burnt rubber and rotten fish.

When a person smokes Salvia, it is nearly impossible to say a single word, much less hold a conversation, and it is a very introverted, personal, even spiritual experience. It is almost the complete opposite of a “party drug”. It does not make a person particularly social and is certainly not “fun”. Most people who use it gain insight on a particular issue in their life, or learn something about themselves. However, the effects are so unpleasant that most people try it once or twice, then never go back to it. If someone tells you that salvia is addictive, they are lying.

Hysteria about drug use is certainly not new. The drug war in this country began following the 1907 Vancouver riots, in which white British Columbians harassed and attacked Chinese-Canadians. Along with the Chinese Head Tax, drug prohibition was passed into law. Both laws were passed with the same goal in mind: make Canada a pure, white, Christian society.

Emily Murphy, one of the most famous Canadian feminists, who was also a major league racist and an advocate for Alberta’s forced sterilization program, was the mother of Canadian drug prohibition. Much like those in the southern United States, Ms. Murphy viewed drug use as an extension of the evil of non-whites. Following the 1907 riots, opium and marijuana use among Chinese-Canadians became an opportunity for Murphy to try to force non-whites out of Canada, as well as to control the depravity of the public. Murphy believed that the public are sinful and need to be punished by the federal government, a view similar to that of our current Prime Minister.

She claimed that two puffs of marijuana would make somebody go insane and commit murder. This claim was never challenged and became the basis for our drug laws. Now people are saying similarly ridiculous and unfounded things about Salvia.

Some people who are calling for Salvia to be banned may very well be concerned parents. Keep in mind, however, that two of the biggest contributors to “The Partnership for a Drug-Free America” and other ‘anti-drug’ lobbies are the alcohol and tobacco industries, followed closely by the pharmaceutical industry. The drug war is big business.

You are being lied to, and the media has been useless to expose the lies. I thank The Ontarion for the opportunity to cut through the hysteria. Research the history of drug policy and you too will come to the conclusion that the only rational option is to legalize, regulate, and educate.