Pubdate: Tue, 22 Mar 2011
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun


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

"The war on drugs is nothing short of a fiasco," she said.
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