Sunday, February 27, 2011

Salvia Divinorum Petition: Why it's more than just about a plant

Recently I asked my mom why she had not yet signed the petition I recently started to keep salvia divinorum, a plant herb with consciousness-altering properties when consumed that's been used for thousands of years, from being made illegal.

[to paraphrase]
"Why the heck should I sign this petition, I don't give a damn about this plant I never heard of. Who cares?"

Indeed. To me the reasons were fairly obvious however after hearing what she shared, I realized it might not be to everybody. Here is Big Brother representative, Health Canada in this case, deciding that this plant is now too evil to keep legal and further deciding that the best way to prevent abuse was to put it alongside other "dangerous drugs" like LSD, DMT, GHB, and magic mushrooms.

I'll summarize my "why care about this issue":
  1. It is an attack on your sovereignty, in this case your own capacity to choose what you ingest and affecting your own consciousness.
  2. It's a plant and we are banning nature. Something about this is messed up.
  3. It is downright frightening that the powers-that-be feel the need to use an ineffective strategy called the war on drugs, yet again.
  4. The call for banning the plant is likely a political knee-jerk reaction based on a YouTube video of a pop star using salvia in a "party" context. That's not exactly how the best policies are formed.
  5. If people (you) don't stand up, ask for -- and initiate -- change, there won't be any and things will get even more insane.
  6. The issue underscores the amount of power and authority we as citizens have given to government bureaucracies to make decisions for us in our lives, as well as the (limited) mechanisms for citizen participation in crucial issues.

For me personally, the most insane thing is that the call from Health Canada to ban salvia divinorum and place it into the schedule of "controlled substances" (ironically titled since many of these substances are easier to acquire by teenagers than regulated substances like alcohol and tobacco) is that it's just about the most uncreative, unproducive, and ineffective possible option they could have chosen. Really, there is no more insane way to handle salvia potential for misuse than by making it illegal.

I won't go into to many details on the "why" of the insanity because I've already mentioned it in the petition preamble you can read here:

I am hoping that, by having as many signatures added to the petition as possible, to show to Health Canada that there are a lot of sane, rational people who see that what they have recommended is insane and irrational. I am wary of calling it a purely political motivation (even though the announcement was made by an ex-police Conservative MP from Manitoba). However, it's most certainly misguided. Thank goodness there is at least a 30-day window for comments; otherwise we'd be *completely* at the mercy of the "higher ups" and their sometimes unwise decisions.

So, even if you have never heard of this plant and have no intention of even to smoke it, and even if you oppose the consumption of consciousness-altering substances, there is still a heck of a lot of reason for you to sign the petition.

On the other hand, you should not sign the petition if:
  • You don't want to be involved in social or political change.
  • You believe the war on drugs is a winner and a great strategy to prevent abuse.
  • You enjoy having Health Canada and other government authorities make decisions for you when it comes to natural health products and substances that alter consciousness.

Other than that, though, I hope you can take a minute and sign on to support the legal right of adults to make their own decisions, to oppose policies that don't work and in fact harm, and just basically, to support sanity.

Please, take a minute to sign the petition at If you're so inspired, read the Health Canada advisory at, search for "salvia" to find the article; at the end of the article you'll find an email address where you can submit your own comment.

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