Drug laws Good riddance

Drug laws — Good riddance

Legislation to ban sales of hallucinogen isn’t an overreaction, it’s good for the state

The Capital-Journal Editorial Board
Published Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It’s called salvia divinorum, and it’s a hallucinogenic drug different from marijuana in at least two ways.

First, according to one college professor, it’s more powerful.

Second, it’s legal in Kansas.

The herb is inexpensive and easy to obtain, and it’s sold in Kansas. A Capital-Journal staff member bought some at a Lawrence herb shop earlier this year to illustrate a story about the drug in the Jan. 2 editions of the newspaper.

Fortunately, Kansas lawmakers are aware of the drug, and they’re doing something about it.

Legislation aimed at adding the herb to the list of controlled substances has been approved in both the House and Senate. It hadn’t reached Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ office as of Monday morning, but Nicole Corcoran, the governor’s spokeswoman, said it “sounds like something she would definitely support.”

That’s encouraging news.

The Associated Press recently distributed a story quoting Jonathan Appel, an assistant professor of psychology and criminal justice at Tiffin University in Ohio, as saying the drug was “much more powerful than marijuana.” The story said Appel had studied the emergence of the drug and was concerned about its use.

According to the AP story, the drug gives users an out-of-body sense of traveling through time and space or merging with inanimate objects. But its effects generally last up to an hour, a shorter time than those of hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP.

The drug is generally smoked, and it isn’t new. Native to Mexico and still grown there, salvia divinorum has been used by Native Americans in spiritual ceremonies for centuries.

Some believe the drug, which is commonly known as salvia, is poised to become a legal alternative to marijuana among teenagers. Lawmakers in eight states have already placed restrictions on it. Kansas is among 17 that are considering a ban or previously did so.

But others say law enforcement authorities and lawmakers are overreacting to a minor problem. The AP story quoted one source as saying the drug isn’t likely to appeal widely to teens because it tastes bad and isn’t what he called “a party drug.” The source, Rick Doblin, is from a nonprofit organization that conducts research on psychedelic drugs and is dedicated to developing psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medication.

Maybe Doblin is right, but no one is disputing the drug impairs judgment and the ability to drive.

Dr. Eric Voth, a Topeka physician specializing in internal and addictive medicine, said there also have been no comprehensive studies of the drug’s short- or long-term effects on the body, especially the brain.

Better safe than sorry. While salvia might not pose as much risk as other drugs, Kansas lawmakers are on the right track in snuffing it out.

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The drug war barrels onward in Kansas as this article from The Capital-Journal Editorial Board suggests. The article discusses the recent legislation to ban sales of hallucinogen in Kansas, boldly claiming that this legislation “isn’t an overreaction, it’s good for the state”