Pubdate: Sat, 26 Feb 2011
Source: Kamloops Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Kamloops Daily News


It took pop singer Miley Cyrus on a one-way trip to Internet infamy
and has sent countless other "pyschonauts" on mindless hallucinogenic
giggle-fests, but now the federal government wants to ban a potent
herb called salvia divinorum before it sends somebody to the morgue.

Health Canada recently posted a notice of its intention to make it
illegal to produce, possess, traffic, import or export the substance,
a natural health product that is widely available in head shops across
Canada and over the Internet.

Also known as magic mint or diviner's sage, the herb apparently
fetches anywhere between $20 and $80 a gram, depending on its potency.
When smoked or chewed, it affects certain receptors in the brain and
produces short-lived effects that include visual distortions and

While there are those who suggest the federal government is
over-reacting with its plan to outlaw the herb, since there's no proof
of long-term health damage, parents across the country should applaud
the move, especially when research suggests that more than seven per
cent of Canadian youths between the ages of 15 and 24 have already
tried it.

"Adding salvia divinorum and salvinorin A (salvia's active ingredient)
to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act would finally enable law
enforcement agencies to take action against suspected illegal
activities involving these substances," the Health Canada notice states.

Indeed, up until now police have lacked the authority to crack down on
those who peddle the substance to Canadian youngsters. And Health
Canada has shown little interest in getting the herb off the streets,
despite the fact that salvia is already strictly regulated or banned
in a number of U.S. states and other countries, including Denmark,
Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Australia and Belgium.

Unfortunately, it will take a while for the ban to take effect.
Interested parties have 30 days to comment on the Health Canada notice
and then it could take up to two years to fine-tune regulations that
would make the herb illegal.

In the meantime, parents would be well advised to learn about the herb
and take the time to talk to their children about salvia and its
potential for harm.

If parents or kids have any doubts, visit YouTube and watch how salvia
sent Hannah Montanna on a wild ride. Or check out any one of a number
of posted videos that show kids whose minds are seriously messed up
after smoking the herb.

Until salvia is formally banned, the best weapon parents have is their
knowledge of the herb and its potential for disaster.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.