Students looking to meet Lucy in the sky with Diamond’s legal cousin may be out of luck if a proposed salvia divinorum sale ban passes.
Boston City Council pushed for a ban on sale of the psychoactive substance, which is currently legal in Massachusetts, in a public hearing held on Tuesday, calling it dangerous and a possible gateway drug.
‘ ‘Clearly this drug has serious hallucinogenic effects on individuals,’ Rep. Vinny deMacedo (D-Plymouth) said.
‘ DeMacedo has been spearheading a legislative campaign since last year that would ban the sale of salvia in Boston.
The drug, sold in herbal form, is available for legal purchase at local head shops. It can be chewed or smoked to induce a high.
Salvia ‘induces a variety of effects, including disassociation, the feeling as if your mind is disconnected from your body,’ Dr. Sharon Levy of Children’s Hospital Boston said in support of deMacedo and the City Council’s proposal.
Salvia is beginning to gain popularity, especially among young adults, deMacedo said.’
The drug is currently unregulated in most of Massachusetts, but West Bridgewater banned the sale of the drug in April 2008.
‘ Councilor Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park) backed deMacedo’s plan to prohibit the sale of salvia.
‘ ‘I believe we have a responsibility to step up to the plate and try to regulate salvia,’ Consalvo said. ‘We can get ahead of the curb and be proactive instead of reactive.’
‘ YouTube videos of teenagers using salvia are evidence of the drug’s potential dangers, both Consalvo and deMacedo said.
‘ ‘In the videos you can see people trying to eat their phones or bags,’ deMacedo said. ‘In that window of time [when you are hallucinating], you could do something to harm yourself, not to mention the long-term effects salvia could have on your brain.’
‘ Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) questioned why anyone would want to induce a hallucinogenic experience.
‘ ‘There are people who say that anytime you ban something you make it more desirable,’ she said. ‘I would suggest that as parents, we try to do what’s best for our children, and as legislators, we should try to create the safest environment for the people who live here.’
‘ Boston Police Department Lieutenant General Stephen Mead lent his support to the salvia ban.
‘ ‘My experience with salvia is that it’s part of the drug culture,’ he said. ‘[BPD] supports banning it in Boston.’
‘ When the council opened up the discussion to the public, some accused the councilors of ‘reacting out of fear,’ claiming salvia is ‘introspective’ and ‘lets you see things you don’t normally see.’
‘ Northeastern University professor John Swain said salvia is ‘amazingly nontoxic and has no evidence of being addictive.’
‘ ‘It’s important for people to know the truth,’ Swain said. ‘It’s a disservice to the public to lump salvia with drugs like cocaine and heroin.”
‘ Emerson College sophomore Paul Davenport, who said he disagreed with the proposed ban, admitted to using the drug in an interview with the Daily Free Press.
‘ ‘I’ve used it a few times,’ he said. ‘It’s not addictive at all. After I used it last semester, I never wanted to use it again. It’s five to 10 minutes where you don’t know where you are.’