THESE are the moments when one of the Scottish Executive's computer
officials gets blasted on the herbal weed he sells from his home.
By day Robert M. solves IT problems for the Government.
But in his spare time he flogs an alternative to cannabis called 'herbal
ecstasy' across Britain, Europe and South America.
And he even sells DVDs showing how to smoke it.
The drug comes from the plant Salvia Divinorum, which is the strongest
It is banned in Australia, Denmark and Finland but is not covered by British
Robert, 43[-?], sold a plant to a Sunday Mail reporter posing as a buyer.
We visited his rented flat in Edinburgh's New Town where homes sell for up to
He sold us the DVD which shows him getting high on the drug which is chewed or
smoked in a 'bong' pipe.
He said: 'It is an acquired taste but it is also a rewarding drug.
'There is a lot of interest in my plants from across the world.
'You get all the benefits of drugs like cannabis and LSD but not the hassle
from the police or authorities.
'There is also little or no hangover from the drug. I would highly recommend
Robert showed our reporter how to set up a water pipe to smoke the drug and
offered him a free puff which he declined.
On his website Robert does admit that Salvia is potentially dangerous.
He says: 'It is not comforting or escapist. You may not like it and you may
find aspects of it quite disturbing.'
Users of SD have suffered hallucinations, double vision and mental health
High doses of SD can cause unconsciousness and short-term memory loss.
Long-term abuse of SD has been linked to depression, schizophrenia and
Salvia Divinorum is one of a number of drugs the Home Office in Britain and
many states in America would like banned.
He agreed to sell us a plant and a package of dried leaves for £25 after we
We were able to book an appointment at his basement flat [...]
Neighbours include High Court judges, surgeons, company executives and
Robert has sold plants to Brazil, South Africa, Iceland, Poland, Czech
Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta.
The drug's increasing popularity, coupled with scientific acknowledgement of
its mind-bending powers, has prompted the Government to review its legal
status. But it could take years to ban.
Alistair Ramsay, director of Scotland Against Drugs, yesterday issued a
warning against using SD.
He added: 'You do not know what you are taking - there is no quality control.
Beware of using this drug, do not think it is safe because it is legal.'
Detective Sergeant Kenny Simpson, drugs co-ordinator at Strathclyde Police,
said officers had recovered small quantities from raids on drug dealers. It
has also been found on sale at rock festivals T in the Park and Gig on the
DS Simpson added: 'Stall holders who sell Salvia Divinorum at festivals will
be told not to as there have been reports of people falling ill .'
Yesterday Robert defended his right to grow Salvia.
He said: 'It is completely different from ecstasy and cannabis. Salvia is not
addictive - you are not going to get hooked after a few puffs.'
And he denied he was making a fortune from the drug.
He added: 'I sell the plant as a hobby and barely break even.'
Drugs expert Paul Sketts, of Glasgow University, believes legal highs such as
SD are a con.
He said: 'Most are caffeine-based and you can get an equally high buzz
drinking several cups of coffee quickly. However there are dangers because no
real research has been done into the side effects of Salvia Divinorum.'