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Leave salvia alone

By in Opinions


The drug Salvia divinorum received a lot of media attention in December, mostly thanks to a video of 18-year-old Miley Cyrus smoking some at a party.

The video re-ignited a debate about whether the drug should be criminalized, and spurred Saskatoon’s Wired 96.3 DJ Ryder to smoke salvia on-air while being video recorded on Dec. 16. In his words, the idea was to show a realistic depiction of what this drug does to you, that it’s “not just Miley Cyrus giggling and hanging out with friends.”

Ryder said he has contacted local MPs to get support for criminalization but he didn’t get a response, so decided to write a letter to them, writing the first half of the letter before he took salvia, and the second half afterwards.

After he takes the salvia, there’s about five minutes where he tries to describe his experience but is unable to properly articulate anything. As he comes down, his reasoning becomes more coherent.

“This is way too much of a screw up that it can be sold to kids,” he said. “My wife gets mad at me when I smoke a joint. A joint would never do this. This is way, way more extreme than having four beer…. This shouldn’t be available to children. It’s available to children for 45 bucks.”

I understand that he was probably still a little high when he said those comments, but I have some major problems with his reasoning.

First of all, salvia isn’t sold to kids; it’s sold to adults over the age of 18. More than once in the video he goes on about selling it to kids, but as long as it stays in the legal grey area it’s in now, the head shops who sell it won’t be selling it to minors. Sure, those kids can find an 18-year-old friend to pull for them, but I bet it’s easier for them to get marijuana than is for them to get salvia or booze.

Secondly, he mentions that he smokes pot. Basically, he’s saying he does drugs. Who is he to judge which drugs are better or safer than others?

Even the price he quotes points to the benefits of the drug’s legality. At $45, it’s plausible that many kids interested in experimenting won’t be able to afford it. I could see that price dropping drastically once the drug goes to the black market.

He states that his idea of the video is to show people that the drug isn’t fun. But he’s not using it properly; the people who sell the drug at the head shop tell you how and when to use it. Live on air, while being videotaped and watched by your boss on a Thursday morning is probably not within the guidelines.

Video: (skip to 3:25 to skip preamble)

The whole video is just under 12 minutes long, and Ryder doesn’t stop with the nonsense about selling it to kids; he goes on to make fun of the type of people he imagines support the drug.

“I know, ”˜hippy guy,’ you’re going to be a little pissed that I took away your Sunday afternoon fun, but there are kids who are getting into serious trouble with this stuff, so deal with it,” he said. “Get some peyote illegally and go trip out about how your dad didn’t say I love you enough in your friggen van.”

Comparing the five-minute high of salvia to the 10 to 12-hour high of peyote is absolutely ridiculous. And I take offense to his comments about hippies. I am not a hippy smoking salvia on Sunday afternoons but I am strongly against criminalizing salvia.

Criminalization will only make the problems worse, if there are any real problems to begin with. Ryder seems especially worried about the sale of salvia to kids, but we will only see more kids smoking it if it becomes completely illegal.

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image: Danni Siemens

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