Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

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Princeton, MAINE USA

Friday, June 23, 2006

Criminal Sage

A Mexican salvia may send you waltzing to a Tennessee jail after July 1.


Diviner’s Sage (Salvia divinorum)

Photo: Lady Salvia

“Eee-Leck-Trick- Ull Banana, is bound to be the very next phase….”

Want a short cut to wisdom? Good luck. Lots of boosters from the plant world have been tried, and for every one, including Eve’s apple, there’s been an authority, sometimes a divinity, who tries to lower the psychic ceiling as wanna-be wiseacres are blasting off.

We were alarmed to read that one of the three flowering plants that has survived summers in our Texas yard, salvia, is now among America’s Most Wanted—an outlaw.  Actually, we have salvia greggii, and the “criminal” variety is salvia divinorum. Growing this plant for anything but ornamental reasons is already against the law in Missouri, Delaware, and Louisiana, and come July 1, it will be illegal in Tennessee, too.

Diviner’s Sage, from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, has long been used ceremonially by the Mazatec people, to induce hallucinations and visions. Like many other short-cuts, though, it often has distinctly negatively consequences. The Delaware prohibition, for example, was pressed into law by grieving parents whose son dabbled in the stuff and later committed suicide. Of course, teenagers seem to be the eagerest short-cutters of all, and lacking much authentic wisdom, don’t manage too well with a sudden draught of the stuff (or whatever boosters provide).

Right-to-ingestion forces, like the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, have been busy. But so have been ersatz parents in many more statehouses around the nation.

Louisiana’s law, which went into effect last August, is the sweeping model. Louisiana outlaws 40 plants for human consumption, salvia divinorum and others that we DO have in the yard—datura, brugmansia—and still others we’ll need to check on—like mimosa hostilis and Ipomoea violacea. The penalty for manufacture or distribution of these plants “when intended for human consumption” is two to ten years. We don’t live in Louisiana, but even if we did, none of the plants we grow is “intended for human consumption.” Our intention is a homelier one— survival—  which in this climate is just as miraculous as dancing teacups or purple haze.

Will Cook of North Carolina has provided this wonderful online salvia primer, which includes a nonchalant reference to salvia divinorum, as well as a lovely photo. Robin Marushia’s research into the ethnobotany of this “Mexican mint” is extensive and reader-friendly.

Lest you think that we descendents of the Puritans are the only killjoys about hallucinogenic plants, here’s a rundown on the (il)legal status of Diviner’s Sage elsewhere. Belgium, Australia and many other lands are anti-short-cut also.

Posted by Julie on 06/23 at 03:59 PM
MedicinePoliticsReligious RitualsPermalink