It's the Plants, Darling

No Legitimate Use

Oh, those crazy kids and their fascination with certain members of Lamiaceae. For some reason, the media has gotten all worked up again over Salvia divinorium, a tender little sage that, when chewed or smoked, delivers a short-lived and sometimes unpleasant hallucination. It's cheap, legal, and widely discussed on the Internet, making it better-known to teenagers than their parents.

The DEA itself will tell you that under a million people a year use the plant, and their own information suggests that the effects are hallucinatory and short-lived but not much more.  (I've read some accounts of hospitalization after S. divinorium use, but those may have been frightened kids who really did not enjoy the trip.)

On a federal level, the plant is legal but listed by the DEA as a "plant of concern."  Some states have banned it, most haven't but stories continue to bubble up about the possibility of a nationwide ban, and this USA Today piece quotes a state legislator as saying that "There was no legitimate purpose for that herb, and the things it was being used for were potentially harmful."

So.  There's the test.  If a plant has no legitimate use–whatever that means–and if it could potentially be used to harm one's self or someone else, as any one of thousands of plants could, it should be outlawed.

So what's next?

Tobacco?

Poison ivy?

Hellebore?

Just wondering.

Posted by on July 17, 2009 at 2:58 am, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.
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14 responses to “No Legitimate Use”

  1. Doug Green says:

    Please tell me that Aegopodium is harmful – please! Then I’ll have the cops come and rip it out – that would save me a ton of work on this new thug-infested garden we bought and are renovating. And if possible, do have Euphorbia epithymoides, Potentilla grandiflora multiflora and even Cornilla added to this list. I’ll smoke ’em for you if that would help and have a vision (of a gorgeous garden without them I suspect)

    We could also make a no-grow list just like the no-fly list. It too could have one in 300 residents in North America on it.

    There is no limit to what we could accomplish

  2. Michele Owens says:

    Let’s just ban everything. If it grows without a lot of care, ban it. If the kids like it, ban it. If professionals make opium from it, ban it. If it could make somebody sick like ostrich ferns, ban it. Nobody can be trusted to have any judgment, so let’s just ban it all.

  3. Call me a misanthropic old man, but I think frightening teenagers is a legitimate use.

  4. KJ says:

    Kids are also bottling up rotting compost and manure in containers and then huffing the gases produced to get high. Kids have also been drinking mouthwash and hairspray to get intoxicated as well. There’s no limit to what stupid people will do, and I hardly think a ban on salvia is going to be effective (easier maybe than dealing with the actual problem)

  5. Cindy Loo says:

    I used to work for a drug task force. (Won’t say which one.)

    You’d be surprised how many everyday garden plants are listed in the official “get high on this” book. Household products, too.

    The DEA ain’t got time to go after little old ladies and their opium (oh yeah, bread seed) poppies, nor will they start ripping out the morning glories anytime soon.

    I’m gonna guess it will devolve into a nothing-burger once the next big news cycle comes along.

  6. Benjamin says:

    Well let’s ban something–I’m running out of room in my garden for drug plants.

  7. When I blogged on Salvia D (http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2009/04/sage-advice-on-salvia-d.html) my hit count went WAY up — I’m more concerned about plant guilt by association. As it is now, someone sees a poppy calls the cop – never mind the variety. Hate to see the same happen with all Salvias.

  8. Katie says:

    Amy-if all of the plants become illegal, your Wicked Plants book will become black market contraband. Hilarious!

  9. Jo Ann says:

    How about if we are all forced to have a “Gardening License” …since none of us can be trusted in what we plant…Everybody will all have to take the “Master Gardener Course” before a license can be issued…just like we have to have a license to drive the car…then your county can set up a new “Neighborhood Watch Program” where “concerned neighbors” can “watch” each others gardens and call in anonymously to report what they believe to be a an offense of some sort on some list… then if you get enough reports your license is revoked and you will no longer be allowed to garden…

  10. A certain garden I know, is displaying a Salvia in a cage because ‘It’s worse than LSD’.

    I despair.

  11. Old Kim says:

    The best drug is tobacco. Too bad that it stains teeth and causes cancer. The next best drug is pot and after that booze but if that’s not enough you might just die young.

  12. JT says:

    no legitimate use . . . can be used to harm myself (I just got a forearm full of spines after twisting around potted specimens trying to photograph an interesting bug) damned useless cacti: ban them all. and, I have gotten high on certain cacti in bloom.

  13. Martin says:

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  14. Tatiana says:

    Let’s ban belladonna, and heck, throw in all nightshades in there. When are people going to realize that more legislation is never the answer? This just blows my mind. And what was that about smoking wild lettuce???

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