My reply to Adam Nathan's article in the Sunday Times (15th July 2001)
I remember watching Kate Adie reporting from the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, and have since then (and on subsequent occasions) been mightily impressed by the way that some journalists are prepared to put themselves on the line to get to the heart of something. On the other hand, I’m more frequently dismayed by the way that most media hacks will simply pander to expectations, playing on people’s fears with sensationalism and dis-information. This can be taken for granted from certain publications, but the ‘Sunday Times’ I thought might have better standards.
Your report on Salvia divinorum does not constitute any real investigation into the phenomena at all. It’s largely a re-hash of an article which appeared in the New York Times on Monday 9th July>, - except that any potentially positive references (e.g. references to it being "a philosophers tool" and concerns from Salvia people themselves regarding ‘frivolous’ use) have been removed. - Leaving an article that warns about "drug suppliers" selling a powerful hallucinogen to "young people".
I have checked out most of the suppliers of Salvia on the Internet, and nearly all of them will not sell to minors. - An encouraging display of self-regulation given that there are no legal controls (can one imagine tobacco companies doing the same?). And I know of no suppliers selling it as ‘incense’ (for fear of being sued or otherwise). Instead I found these suppliers giving plenty of good information and advising a cautious approach, some disclaimers, yes, but understandable ones.
You quote the ‘experts’ as saying that people are perhaps risking their lives, yet (as the NYT article originally said) there have been no reported cases of hospitalisation, let alone death. Who are these ‘experts’?
You state that the Home Office could take years to ban it, - as if urgent action to make it illegal is obviously the right thing to do. You haven’t even considered the case against doing this. Salvia divinorum may have something unique and unprecedented to say about the nature of reality. Have you thought about that?
And last but not least, you obviously, obviously, have no experience of the effects of Salvia yourself.
Rather than regurgitating and distorting someone else’s story, why don’t you instead consider putting yourself on the line, to perhaps get to the truth of the matter?
Why not purchase some Salvia from one of these suppliers, try it, then write a first hand report of that experience?
~ A Plant Person