This is an outstanding news article about the current legal situation facing Salvia divinorum. I wish more members of the media actually reported on the facts like Christopher Patton has done instead of regurgitating fear based stereotypes that are most commonly conveyed in the news and pontificated by the authorities. The world would be a far better & more human place. Stop criminalizing nature and the prohibition of cognitive liberty. Stop incarcerating good people over victimless "crimes". Salvia divinorum should remain legal as there is NO scientific evidence that it poses any threat to public safety. The ancient and still practicing religion of Shamanism is a guaranteed right under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Why is this unalienable right not honored by our current government? Thank you Christopher & The Daily Iowan for having the courage to not only speak, but to publish the truth.
Best regards to you,
The Daily Iowan: Keep Salvia legal
BY CHRISTOPHER PATTON MARCH 6, 2009
When smoked, Salvia divinorum can yank out the rational mind, throw it to the ground, stamp on it and finally rub one’s nose in the resulting mess.
I recommend giving it a try — especially because the experience only lasts a few minutes.
But adventurous Iowan psychonauts who are interested in exploring the mysterious realms that consuming this potent hallucinogenic plant can open up may want to do so soon. The Iowa Legislature is considering a bill criminalizing the sale and possession of the unique herb.
According to Dale Woolery, the associate director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, the state must ban Salvia in order to preclude the possibility of it ever harming anyone.
However, the state’s own Legislative Services Agency notes in a document explaining the background behind the proposal to criminalize Salvia that the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Substance Abuse and Prevention Division has not received a single report of Salvia divinorum abuse in Iowa — ever. The document also highlights that throughout fiscal 2008, there was not even one prison admission for the hallucinogenic drugs that are illegal.
“This is more about prevention than it is punishment,” Woolery said. “We’re not hearing anything about a widespread epidemic or widespread use like the prevalence of marijuana or meth.”
However, he said, his office is beginning to get more information about Salvia from the law-enforcement and drug-treatment communities.
“There’s probably more of it out there than we hear about,” he said. “Right now, our research has turned up impairment issues, and we’d hate for anyone to become injured or worse as a result of this.”
Those who have experienced a Salvia trip firsthand are fully aware of the “impairment issues” to which Woolery so ominously alludes. But those effects are precisely what drives inquisitive minds to experiment with this substance.
Anthony Fippinger, 24, who graduated in 2007 from the UI with a double major in art and English, currently lives in Mingo, Iowa. Having tried Salvia, he refers to it as an enigmatic substance.
“The time it takes to articulate its effects on you usually lasts longer than the high itself,” he said. “Yet, while under its spell many describe a world devoid of time and infinitely spacious, me included — I liken the experience to one of those acid-dipped music videos with an endless number of replicated shapes perpetually coming at you.”
Another Salvia user is Tanner Faaborg, a 25-year-old Iowa City resident who has a degree in political science and is currently taking English courses. He described his first Salvia experience as shocking.
“When it hit me, and it hit hard, the effects were … fast as hell and targeting every sense I had,” Faaborg said. “I leaned over to express the sensation to my buddies to discover they weren’t there.”
Like Fippinger, Faaborg also perceived the passage of time in a distorted fashion.
“Time cannot exist in a place like that; time can only exist in preconceived concepts of order,” he said. “With Salvia there is no order, it simply is, and you simply are.”
Because of the extent to which tripping on Salvia temporarily annihilates one’s ability to interact with the world in an ordinary way, those who are experienced with the plant suggest it should only be used in a safe and carefully monitored environment.
Smoking Salvia to aid him in meditation and stress relief, Ori Fienberg, a 25-year-old Iowa City resident who in 2008 graduated from the UI with an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing, said he thinks health and safety concerns dictate that the potent herb be properly studied and regulated.
“I think Salvia divinorum is a useful natural aid to self-exploration,” he said. “However, choosing to ban it rather than studying it and making appropriate laws will create an unregulated black market and ultimately increase the number of people who will abuse it by not giving it the respect it deserves as a powerful empathogen.”
Feinberg is right. Despite the value some find in Salvia’s intriguing mind-altering effects, its astounding potency demands respect. Thus, the government should regulate it in such a way as to protect public safety.
But when asked about the possibility of slowing down the legislative process and allowing a more thorough investigation into how Iowa could best regulate Salvia, Woolery remained firm in his prohibitionist stance.
“I don’t think I need scientific research to convince me, based on what I’ve seen, that Salvia should be banned,” he said.
If you haven't already done so, please read my case in defense of Salvia divinorum and continue to fight the injustice of prohibition.