Pubdate: Tue, 22 Mar 2011 Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC) Copyright: 2011 The Vancouver Sun Contact: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/letters.html Website: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/477 Author: Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun MILEY CYRUS VIDEO BLAMED FOR PLAN TO BAN SALVIA HERB The BC Civil Liberties Association is opposing Health Canada's proposal to criminalize the herbal product Salvia Divinorum. BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn said Monday that the proposal to criminalize the herb seems based not on science but on the fact that Miley Cyrus popularized the drug in a You-Tube video. "Instead of evidence-based policymaking, we are getting policy by Hannah Montana," Vonn said. In the YouTube video featuring Cyrus, the actress who played the Disney TV series character Hannah Montana is shown smoking something and laughing. She later explained she was smoking the legal herb Salvia, not marijuana. Vonn believes the video has prompted politicians to pressure Health Canada to criminalize the herb. "Certainly the optics are highly suspect," Vonn said. "It looks like a lot of political pressure has been brought to bear on this." Salvia is a species of sage belonging to the mint family. Also known as "magic mint," it is regulated under Natural Health Products Regulation and is sold at hemp shops across the country and on the Internet, where it is marketed as a legal hallucinogen. In proposing the criminalization of Salvia last month, Health Canada called for 30 days of public consultation on the issue, which has ended. Vonn believes the matter should receive broader public debate. Adding Salvia to Schedule III of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act would be highly counterproductive, she says, and harm the youth that Health Canada hopes to protect. Sending vulnerable youth to jail for using Salvia will not protect them and will only drive the use of Salvia to the black market, which will prevent the product from being effectively researched and safety-tested, Vonn said. According to Health Canada's website, use of Salvia causes "slurred speech and awkward sentence structure," "lack of physical coordination" and "uncontrollable laughter." Vonn suggests such effects bear a striking resemblance to those of alcohol. She suggested Salvia should be regulated rather than criminalized. "The war on drugs is nothing short of a fiasco," she said. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.