Salvia impact unclear

Mar 032003
Authors: Spencer Goodfriend

Recent pressure from the U.S. Congress to classify Salvia as a controlled substance has led to controversy over the herb’s effects and uses. Yet many still do not know exactly what Salvia is, and even CSU’s own Hartshorn Health Center is unclear about its impact on the community.

“It hasn’t been an issue with us,” said Pam McCracken, the director for the Center for Drug and Alcohol Education. “It may become more of an issue if the feds feel it is becoming a drug of abuse, or if it is used in a victimizing fashion.”

This is the where the controversy begins, a bill was presented to Congress in October 2002 that proposed placing Salvia Divinorum and its active ingredient Salvinorin A in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act. The bill was killed with the dissolution of the 107th Congress at the end of 2002. However, representative Joe Baca, D-California, is expected to reintroduce the bill once more.

“I don’t think it should be outlawed. Just because it’s becoming popular now they want to make it illegal,” said senior music major Nick Trotta. “It’s a joke that it is sold as a drug anyway, I stopped smoking it once I found out it was incense.”

Yet it is slightly more than just incense. Salvia is a relative to the Sage mint plant and is used traditionally by Shamans of the Oaxaca region of Mexico for spiritual and medicinal purposes. Practiced for centuries, the herb has diffused into the United States and remains as a holistic and healing plant.

“Everyone that I know who has smoked it doesn’t anymore, it’s way too harsh on the lungs and the high only lasts a few seconds,” Trotta said.

Salvinorum A is not chemically related to any other psychoactive compound known to mankind. It does not contain nicotine nor is it known to be addictive in any fashion and not a single hospitalization has occurred from its use. It is not considered a sedative, narcotic or tranquilizer and can be purchased at almost any water pipe shop.

“It’s looks like people lose their minds for a second or two,” said sophomore speech communications major Trey Littell. “I’ve never tried it because I don’t smoke things that aren’t meant to be smoked.”

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