Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 2010
Source: Minnesota Daily (U of MN,  Minneapolis, MN Edu)
Contact:  2010 Minnesota Daily


A Baseless Drug Prohibition Would Stifle a Unique Strain of Medical

If H.F. 2975 (companion S.F. 2773) authored by Rep. Morrie Lanning,
R-Moorhead, becomes law, Minnesota will ban the sale of the
psychedelic herb Salvia divinorum and criminalize its possession as a
misdemeanor offense. Lanning has authored a separate House bill which
would make salvia a Schedule I controlled substance.

Research on salvia has been increasingly popular. According to Dr.
Bryan Roth at Case Western Reserve University, salvia is "the most
potent naturally-occurring hallucinogenic drug." By 2006, studies had
suggested that its primary active ingredient, salvinorin A, could lead
to treatments for Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

As far as drugs go, salvia does not appear to be particularly
dangerous. No long-term negative outcomes have been reported from its
use. There have been no reported cases of addiction in the scientific
literature as the drug can be unpleasant. In one case, salvia brought
on persistent psychosis, but no one is recorded as dying because of
salvia in either the U.K. or the United States. These realities don't
trip up Rep. Lanning or his: a drug war is good politics.

In 1986, then President Ronald Reagan declared that drug users are "as
dangerous to our national security as any terrorist." Unfortunately
for the humanity's more rational endeavors, such dogma is alive and
well. Clearly, certain lawmakers are willing to criminalize a
substance in order to score political points among unduly terrorized
parents. But bans like this serve another purpose: the maintenance of
law and order, or more accurately, the maintenance of the
politically-valuable misbelief that drug criminalization aids in our
national security.

If this strategy is a reality, one would expect drug policy to reflect
a less-than-accurate level of danger. A growing body of research
suggests some Schedule I drugs like marijuana, ecstasy or the
well-studied lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) are actually less risky
than Schedule II counterparts like methamphetamine or morphine. With
respect to mortality, these drugs are safer than alcohol and tobacco.
Our drug schedule is nonsense, and it impedes scientific research.

MDMA, or "ecstasy" as it is known on the street, was finding
increasing currency among couples' therapists when it was made a
Schedule I substance by congress in 1985, against the request of
researchers and psychologists. Washington proved unable to take expert
opinion any more seriously than a junkie's. Today, it's Lanning turn
to get a drug war fix.

Representative Lanning, on unsolicited behalf of Minnesota's largest
public research university, these bills exemplify the incurious. Thank
you for reminding us how useful the opportunists find a fear-driven
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake