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Flanagan's salvia ban passes Senate



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January 30, 2012
The Senate has passed a bill outlawing salvia divinorum, an herbal hallucinogen. Currently legal in New York, salvia divinorum is an herb that is native to Mexico and has been used for spiritual and medicinal purposes for centuries.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen.John Flanagan, R-East Northport, who cites the potential of the drug to act as a "gateway" to other, more dangerous drugs. Flanagan's bill, if passed by the Assembly and signed into law, would outlaw it from the state.

His bill was introduced in 2010 and passed the Senate once already in the 2011 session.

"I am looking at anecdotal evidence. I think it has the potential to be a gateway to many other things. I think it is better to get ahead of the problem before hand," said Flanagan. This anecdotal evidence includes YouTube videos that show users experiencing what appear to be psychedelic trips after smoking salvia, including pop star Miley Cyrus shown smoking it with friends.

Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, said, "We have seen, anecdotally, the use of salvia as a gateway. Those who use salvia tend to be heavy users."

However, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, there is no evidence of salvia acting as a gateway drug. "People who say salvia is a gateway drug essentially don't know what they are talking about," said Gabriel Sayegh, the New York state director of the anti-prohibition organization. "No it's not a gateway drug. The gateway theory has been so thoroughly eviscerated time and time again. We are still in the hangover phase of the lunacy of the drug war."

According to Drug Policy Alliance, while 6.7 percent of the population has used salvia at least once in their lifetime, only 0.5 percent has used it within the last month. "It's a mild hallucinogen; it is often a fairly unpleasant experience. Most people say they don't want to do it again. The prevalence of its use is miniscule," said Sayegh.

Reynolds, asserting his support for the ban, said, "Those who use salvia tend to be heavy users. I think it is [addictive]." When asked for data backing up the claim neither Reynolds nor LICADD could provide it.

"There is no basis to the claim that salvia is addictive. Whoever says that is expressing their incredible lack of knowledge on the subject," said Sayegh.

Assemblyman Peter Rivera, D-Bronx, has likewise put forward legislation proposing to regulate salvia. Assembly bill 5491, unlike the Senate bill banning the drug, seeks only to prohibit its sale to minors. Flanagan's bill, which implements a civil charge and a $500 fine for selling salvia, would need to pass through the Assembly, or be rectified with Rivera's bill, before becoming a statute.

"What it is that the Senate has done here is going to make things more complicated," said Sayegh. The Rivera bill "bans the sale of salvia to minors… If you're an adult, you can buy it. Adults can make adult decisions about their own body. What the Senate does is make it so that no one can use the drug; this encourages the black market."

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  1. print email
    What is a drug?
    January 31, 2012 | 08:27 AM

    What is drug? There are no definition. I have searched for 30 years just one correct statistics showing than cannabis can lead to problems, and found none. I did the same for salvia, and despite its impressive, but very short lasting, effect, I have not seen any reason to make it illegal. In fact, cannabis, salvia, magic mushrooms and Tabernanthe iboga appears to be quite efficacious medications capable of curing addiction (to alcohol, heroin, cocaine, etc.). This confirms my feeling that prohibition is only a tool for selling real dangerous products, and this by targeting the kids, and without taxes. If you want protect the kids, stop prohibition. completely.

    Bruno24
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    Why are we gifting the market to criminals?
    January 31, 2012 | 11:34 AM

    Salvia is actually the opposite of addictive; most people do not wish to repeat the experience.

    In addition to the many societal costs of prohibition, it has a long history of driving the spread of harder or more dangerous drugs.

    * Poppies to morphine to heroine to krokodil
    * Coca to cocaine to crack
    * Ephedra to ephredrine to speed to methamphetamine
    * Marijuana to skunk to dangerous synthetic concoctions such as 'spice' or 'bath salts'
    * Mushrooms to ecstasy to 2CB/designers

    At every step the reasons for the rise in popularity of the new form of the drug are one or more of the following:

    * It may easier to smuggle.
    * It may be more addictive, thus compelling the buyer to return more frequently.
    * It may be cheaper to produce therefore yielding more profit.
    * Like a game of "whack a mole" a shutdown of producers in one area will mean business opportunities for another set of producers with a similar product.

    Prohibition's distortion of the immutable laws of supply and demand subsidizes organized crime, foreign terrorists, corrupt cops & politicians and feeds the prejudices of self-appointed culture warriors. So called Tough-On-Drugs politicians have happily built careers on confusing drug prohibition's horrendous collateral damage with the substances that they claim to be fighting, while the big losers in this battle are everybody else, especially taxpayers.

    How come so many of us have been deluded into believing that big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices?

    Imagine if we were to chop down every single tree on the planet as a response to our failure to prevent tree-climbing accidents. That's what our misguided drug policy looks like. Isn't it time we all stood up and told the government we're tired of being beaten and jailed so that pharmaceutical companies can poison and kill us for obscene profits?

    Prohibition Prevents Regulation : Legalize, Regulate and Tax!



    Malcolm Kyle
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    Anony
    February 06, 2012 | 09:51 PM

    Salvia should not be banned simply because prohibition does not work. It doesn't matter whether or not this plant is dangerous (when used in a safe setting it is safe), if you make it illegal it opens a new market for cartels (they always need more money, right?). It will also make more people criminals, and do you believe there is more room in the jails? Do you want your tax money going to put these people in jail and enforcing these laws?

    Look, if alcohol prohibition failed, why do you think this would work?
    I'm sure the cartels/gangs/drug dealers will be thanking you guys!
    Ban Salvia for minors, problem solved!

    Look at the above comments, if this Flanagan was a good senator, wouldn't he listen to the peoples' opinions?

    Anony
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