Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jun 2008
Source: Cullman Times, The (AL)
Copyright: 2008 The Cullman Times
Author: Derek Price
Bookmark: (Opinion)


We at The Cullman Times bet a lot of our readers were surprised to
learn how some young people in Cullman County are using a
hallucinogenic drug, called salvia divinorum, to alter their minds in
a fashion somewhat similar to LSD. We suspect you were also surprised
to learn that salvia is perfectly legal to buy, sell and use in Alabama.

We were definitely shocked.

Here in Cullman County, a place where adults can't legally buy a glass
of wine with their dinner, it's perfectly legal to sell a hallucinogen
to a 15-year-old. Granted, the only local store we know that sells
salvia requires the buyer to be at least 19, but that's not the law.
It's merely by choice, a decision that we think is made more for
public relations reasons than any sense of ethics on the part of the

The presence of salvia in Cullman may have been news to parents, but
it's nothing new to many young people here. We didn't have to look far
to find teenagers who had used salvia and knew exactly where to buy
it, a troubling sign for a substance that serves no purpose but to
impose a brief but powerful high.

That's why it's important for Alabama to outlaw this drug before it
becomes a bigger problem.

Some people who oppose the criminalization of salvia say there have
been few scientific studies about it, which is true. But shouldn't
that be even more of a reason to keep it off store shelves? Because
it's a relatively obscure drug, no one knows exactly how much damage
it might do to the brain or how addictive it might be for some users.

We do know one thing. Salvia is powerful enough to cause its users to
drop out of reality, if only for a few minutes, while their senses of
vision, sound and touch go haywire. This alone should be enough to
outlaw salvia - never mind if it's addictive or physiologically
harmful - because these hallucinogenic effects could cause serious
societal problems as the drug gained more widespread acceptance.

Alabama lawmakers have tried to ban salvia in the past, including in
the most recent legislative session, but the bill has never gotten
enough support to pass. Perhaps legislators didn't realize how widely
available salvia is across the state, or maybe they don't know how
powerfully it can alter the mind. Perhaps they just don't care that
young people across the state are using salvia to get high, even in
places where they can't buy a beer.

For them, we only have one question.

What are you smokin'?