this alert is online at: http://www.alchemind.org/News/salvia_australia.htm
May 31, 2002 Salvia Divinorum Alert !
Salvia Divinorum Outlawed in Australia
An Update from the U.S. based Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, made possible by
the Salvia Divinorum Defense Fund: http://www.alchemind.org/salvia_defense_fund.htm
Effective June 1, Australia becomes the first country to make the plant Salvia divinorum a prohibited drug. Pursuant to a ruling by Australia’s National Drugs And Poisons Schedule Committee (NDPSC), both Salvia divinorum and its active principle salvinorin A, will be added to Schedule 9 of Australia’s Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons (SUSDP). Australia’s action raises fears that other governments may soon follow suit.
Schedule 9 is Australia’s most restrictive drug schedule, and includes “substances which may be abused or misused, the manufacture, possession, sale or use of which should be prohibited by law except when required for medical or scientific research, or for analytical, teaching or training purposes with approval of Commonwealth and/or State or Territory Health Authorities.”
Under Australian law, drug control is a state rather than a federal issue. Thus the NDPSC’s decision is technically only a recommendation to Australia’s states and territories to prohibit both S. divinorum and salvinorin A. It is practically unheard of, however, for states to deviate from the NDPSC’s rulings. Accordingly it is a fait accompli that the possession, distribution, or cultivation of S. divinorum and salvinorin A will now be considered a criminal offense in all of Australia.
The Alchemind Society’s Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics has been in contact with a group of scientific researchers in Australia who are working to challenge the NDPSC’s ruling and block its adoption by the various states and territories. So far these efforts have been unsuccessful.
Australia’s scheduling of S. divinorum raises concerns that the US DEA, which is known to be evaluating the plant for scheduling, may be spurred to prohibit the plant as well. In anticipation of similar action by the DEA, the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) has established a SALVIA DIVINORUM DEFENSE FUND for the purpose of raising the money necessary to present a legal challenge to any scheduling move by the DEA. In October of last year, a group of experts coordinated by the CCLE submitted a written report to the US DEA, finding that Salvia divinorum does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Schedule I of the US Controlled Substance Act.
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The CCLE continues to monitor Salvia divinorum’s legal situation on a daily basis. With your support, we will be able to mount a legal challenge to a future scheduling move by the US DEA.
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Additional Details about the Australian Scheduling Decision
The NDPSC’s decision to place the S. divinorum and its active principle into Schedule 9 – a schedule reserved for drugs with a “high potential for abuse” and which present a “risk to public health and safety” – appears to have no factual support.
At its August 2001 meeting, The NDPSC considered scheduling S. divinorum, noting that the plant was being “advertis[ed] for sale in Australia and some broad based e-mail discussion groups on Australian web sites have included discussion threads on Salvia divinorum.”
Traditional shamanic use of the plant was discounted by the NDPSC, which dismissively commented, “There was no evidence of traditional therapeutic use other than in shamanistic healing rituals.”
Finally, while placement in Schedule 9 requires a finding that the plant or substance presents a public health problem, the NDPSC made an end-run around this important criterion, stating:
“The Jurisdictions advised the Committee that they had not been advised that this herb was causing public health problems, however this may simply reflect the relative “newness” of the herb as a potential substance of abuse.”
The NDPSC concluded its August 2001 meeting by noting: “there appear[s] to be a prima facie case for control of Salvia divinorum as an hallucinogen, but … there was no evidence of a major public health hazard at this stage. Accordingly, the Committee agreed to foreshadow appropriate Schedule 9 entries and seek public comment
At its next meeting, held in November 2001, the NDPSC noted “there was no response to the pre-meeting gazette notice in relation to the foreshadowed decision to include Salvia Divinorum in Schedule 9 of the SUSDP. However, a Minute was received from the Office of Complementary Medicines of the TGA, thanking the Committee for considering the inclusion of S. divinorum into the SUSDP on public health and safety grounds.”
Yet, with no more evidence than what existed (or didn’t exist) in August 2001, the NDPSC then summarily ruled (Decision 2001/33-7) to include “Salvia Divinorum in Schedule 9 of the SUSDP, on the basis of high potential for abuse and risk to public health and safety.”
In addition, the NDPSC included in Schedule 9 “8-METHOXYCARBONYL-4A,8A-DIMETHYL-6-ACETOXY- 5-KETO-3,4,4B,7,9,10,10A-SEPTAHYDRO-3-(4-FURANYL)- 2,1-NAPHTHO[4,3-E]PYRONE *(SALVINORIN A).”
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