It is with some trepidation that I read the report in 'WorksopToday' (14/10/2005
about Salvia divinorum.
I'd like to confirm whether the quotes attributed to you are accurate, and in
particular, to find out more about the 'Early Day Motion' the article reported
you as tabling.
My concern is that knee-jerk reactions to things apparently new and unknown tend
to result in poor legislation, and generally that peddling fear and
misinformation ends up doing more harm than good.
For example, the article quoted you as saying, "The Australians have clearly
found a problem with it. There's obviously a risk in people taking it".
In fact, if one looks further into it, one may more reasonably conclude that
Australian authorities simply banned Salvia without issue or knowledge of what
they were legislating against.
During their 'research' their National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee
dismissively stated "There was no evidence of traditional therapeutic use other
than in shamanistic healing rituals." Which begs the question, does a
shamanistic healing ritual not count as a traditional therapeutic use?
This unelected committee's technical 'experts' apparently made such a complete
hash of its systematic naming of the active constituent Salvinorin A, it not
only suggests that they had no idea what they were legislating against, it may
even make the validity of the law itself questionable (see
for technical detail).
Australia was the first country to ban Salvia divinorum. How others could have
so sheepishly followed suit becomes more apparent from your unquestioning tone.
Another quote we have is "These people who live in this airy fairy land [the
websites] don't know what effect this is having on a town like Worksop" - again,
before you start grandstanding and trying to look tough with your stance on the
"war on drugs" - please try to substantiate your remarks. Tell us, if you know
any better, exactly "what effect this is having on a town like Worksop",
preferably without using unwarranted adjectives like 'clearly' and 'obviously'.
I've been working closely with Salvia for over six years. It's been available in
the UK for over a decade. It's been used in Mazatec culture for centuries.
I'm not trying to claim that there aren't any risks whatsoever, but I believe it
would be a far better use of minister's time, for example, tackling the endemic
problem of binge drinking, rather than trying to spook ordinary people about
something of which they've never heard.
Recommended further reading:
Ethnopharmacology of Ska Maria Pastora