Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jun 2007
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Jeff Holubitsky
Bookmark: (Hallucinogens)
Bookmark: (Salvia)


Council Wants Salvia Divinorum On Illegal List

EDMONTON - Leduc's city council is pushing Ottawa to remove a 
powerful hallucinogenic drug called salvia divinorum from the shelves 
of head shops and add it to the list of illegal substances.

"This is definitely a preventative measure and I want the federal 
government to be aware this is readily available," Ald. Dana Smith 
said Tuesday. "It's being used and it can be another step to another drug."

The psychedelic drug, also called magic mint or diviner's sage and 
often compared to LSD, is available in some marijuana paraphernalia 
stores or on the Internet. It is sold in pill form or as a dried 
product for smoking and causes intense hallucinations lasting from 30 
seconds to 30 minutes.

Council voted unanimously Monday night to raise the issue as a 
resolution at next year's annual meeting of the Federation of 
Canadian Municipalities. It wants the drug to be governed under the 
federal Drug and Controlled Substances Act.

Smith, a member of the Leduc community drug action committee, said 
while the use of salvia divinorum in his city isn't believed to be 
widespread, it can be bought there legally.

"As far as I am concerned that makes it a problem in Leduc in that it 
is available, but it is not a problem in that it is rampant and that 
sort of thing," she said.

Chad Wentworth, owner of Chad's Smoke Shop, said sales of salvia have 
dropped off dramatically since he first stocked it about eight months 
ago, and he doesn't plan to order more once the small amount he has 
on hand is sold.

"Now that people have tried it, it's going down," he said. "I don't 
even know where you can get it because a lot of places don't sell it anymore."

He said the drug is also expensive, commonly selling for about $30 to 
$40 a gram.

"It's usually people 20 to 30 years old," he said. "We don't sell it 
to younger people; it's a little too intense for the younger crowd."

Wentworth said he tried the drug once and would never use it again.

"I would prefer it to be banned," he said. "I don't think it should 
be legal because of the intensity of the hallucinogenic state. I 
don't think some people could handle it."

The Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission hasn't dealt with 
issues surrounding the substance in its adult treatment services, a 
spokeswoman said.

Leduc's move follows similar concerns in communities such as 
Saskatoon and Trenton, Ont. The drug has already been banned in 
Australia and several U.S. states are considering a ban.

Health Canada recently said it is monitoring the drug and that its 
long-term effects aren't known, but in the short term it has caused 
unconsciousness and memory loss.

But Smith wants Ottawa to speed up its procedures in controlling such 

"We're looking for a way that we can expedite the review of salvia 
divinorum to have it added to the list of controlled substances," she said.

Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke is also concerned that the drug is 
available over the counter under current legislation. "It is like the 
new acid," he said. "We feel this is not appropriate."

Const. Jeff McBeth of the Leduc RCMP drug section said even though 
salvia divinorum is not illegal, he is concerned about its powerful 
effects on users.

"With it being a legal substance, kids can consume it and think 
everything is fine," he said.

McBeth didn't know how common the use may be. "It's like any culture 
such as the crystal meth culture -- it's a closed group and very hard 
to break into."

The drug has been chewed or smoked for centuries by Mexico's Mazatec 
people, who use it for spiritual reasons.
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