Canadian Law: What is the true reason for scheduling plants?

Last year I was was involved in a debate with Health Canada about its intent to try and schedule Salvia divinorum. Without getting into the biology and chemistry of the plant their reason listed right on the website for wanting to do so were because they felt that hallucinating is dangerous to the youth. They also cited sources that actually claimed the exact opposite of what Health Canada was trying to imply online.
Luckily, and probably based on the fact they hadn’t actually read a single thing about the plant other than its hallucinogenic and kids can buy it, it was not scheduled. Though i have this feeling its on the back burner until they can actually find something scientific to give it a bad release.

Though it is quite irrelevant, I am not a drug user/promoter. But i have been quite interested and somewhat involved in “the war on drugs”. It is my opinion it is a religious one aimed at conformity.

What i just cannot understand (and I am primarily trying to stick to Canadian Law) is how the government can actually steal (seizures) a persons belonging and torture (jail) them.

So what I am trying to do is find out where, on paper (or online), these laws are discussed in detail as to the reasons for creation and enforcement.

The real debate i suppose once I (we?) have read the official reasons for banning the freedom of mind expression/physical sensation.

Also my primary focus is on natural products, not synthetics. I am talking plants, Cannabis, Psilocybe, Papaver etc.

I appreciate any light you guys could shine on the subject as the Charter of Rights has a nice scape goat right up top rendering it as useful as Americas constitution post 9/11.

Does salvia divinorum (a plant) cause you (not you specifically, but in the general sense) to (note: 1 “O”, not 2) overuse parentheses?

Seen as I do not use it, I very much doubt it (sorry if my brackets offend you).

Any serious thoughts?

It would help your credibility if you didn’t automatically equate jail with torture. Being locked up isn’t pleasant, but it’s not (inherently) torture.

Actually, I’m not sure about this. I only know a couple of people that have “done time”, but they all describe some pretty hideous treatment. Sure, it was done by other inmates, but the system seems to allow it. /hijack
ETA: on topic, the concept of making a plant “illegal” has always seemed ridiculous. Overgrow!!

Didn’t say torture couldn’t happen in jail, just that it’s not inherent to jail. Not everyone jailed is abused

Welcome to the Straight Dope, Coastal! Your OP looks like an interesting idea. Unfortunately, it’s a bit muddled, in my opinion. Are you wanting to discuss
-The ethics of imprisonment in general?
-The ethics of imprisonment for possessing specific plants?
-The ethics of imprisonment for possessing salvia?
-Something else?

What might help is if you’d make a single, strong sentence stating your opinion, followed by some facts or arguments that inform your opinion. For example:

"It is my belief that possession of all plants should be legal. Although some plants may be dangerous to consume, it is the individual’s responsibility to determine which these are. Parents must help their children make these determinations. Many times it’s not the most dangerous plants (belladonna, oleander) that are criminalized, but rather the less-dangerous ones (salvia, marijuana).

If you start with a clear statement of opinion and follow it with facts and arguments, people may have an easier time engaging with you productively.

Edit: while I can certainly see where you’re coming from with calling jail “torture,” it’s dangerous to make controversial asides in your arguments, as they can distract readers from your main point. I suggest confining controversial statements to the main issue you want to discuss :).

Thanks for the thoughtful responses, I see where you are coming from.

I do equate jail with torture as it is without consent and ripping you away from your loved ones to be forcefully kept in a cage. Maybe not 100% are abused, but anyway. Yes, not the point. That’s a dead topic.

My concern is exactly what is written above:

The idea that someone can have all their material possessions taken (can I say stolen in brackets? :D), be taken away from any true human contact with family/friends/regular society, perhaps being raided and physically forced equates assault. Then you are forced to live in cages and undergo untold mental anguish and likely physical as well.

For what? Growing some plants? Getting a buzz that doesn’t cause nearly as many health concerns as legal alternatives such as ethanol? This really, in any kind of unbiased view, seems completely wrong. If it were a group of citizens that did this to someone, they would be labeled psychopaths.

So what I first would really like to find is where, in writing, indicates the motives of the government to play such horrendous games on its people, and how exactly they maneuvered their pawns to get away with it.

Salvia divinorum was only the most recent example, not the point entirely. Health Canada tried to ban it based on no actual research done in Canada, and some papers they picked certain paragraphs out of but left out others like the fact the article claimed it likely to not be habit forming but that was one of the worries the Canadian government had yet their only references were to the contrary. That one got smacked down and I have not read about it for a few months now, nor have iI been replied to from the people I was engaging. But many other things are still not OK.
There are other laws that are rather strange as well, such as Ephedra. With all the Asian people in Canada, I am surprised that they tried to control it. As is, you can have it no problem, but cannot transport across the border. Export or import. With all the scare of amphetamines, its an easy win, but the thing is this herb is a real life saver in some cultures, many of which are living in Canada. Its amazing for asthma, immune system etc, but once again huge human rights issues if you are importing it.
So how, when, why did they feel they could actually take everything from us for having a plant? That’s the Q. Medicinal or otherwise, what right do I have to tell you what flavour of ice cream to eat?

Okay, but you keep repeating it, and that’s distracting. If your objection is to all imprisonment, that’s what we should be talking about. If you think it’s okay for a democratically-elected state to have laws and to punish violation of those laws with imprisonment, but that possession of plants should not be so punished, that’s an entirely different conversation, and talking about how evil jail is shouldn’t show up in that conversation.

FWIW, I tend to agree that possession of plants should not be illegal. There maybe exceptions or good arguments in favor of criminalization of possession, but I can’t make them.

You need to look into the history of substance abuse a bit. In the US, from the Civil War onwards there was a definite social problem with opiate addiction. In many cases this stemmed from opiates being given as painkillers to wounded soldiers - which was a positive good - but little understanding of appropriate dosing and how to reduce doses in a manner least likely to lead to addiction. As many drugs were available over the counter, such as opiates and cocaine, a lot of people started having problems with use even as children as their parents dosed them with strong drugs with little understanding of what they were giving their kids or how much.

Initial efforts dealt with getting accurate labels on things - patent medicines having to admit they were mostly alcohol and opium, for instance. I don’t know anyone who thought, or thinks, that was a bad idea, you SHOULD know what you’re consuming, right?

However, addiction and the problems surrounding it were still a social problem at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th. The last half of the 19th Century saw the rise of Temperance Movements in many nations, movements that promoted reduction or elimination of alcohol consumption based upon the harm done by those substances. US Prohibition is probably the best known of their “successes”, which was later repealed when it was decided that the prohibition was causing more harm than legalization did.

Meanwhile, there were still many concerns regarding opiates, cocaine, and marijuana which gradually led to them behind scheduled with the idea that if you only allowed doctors to prescribe and eliminated easy access people would stop using. Which has been about as successful as alcohol prohibition. Hallucinogens were pretty much legal up until the late 1960’s when the Establishment freaked out over them and decided banning them would work, even if it hadn’t proven terribly effective for anything else.

An important thing to remember is that the prohibitions occurred in response to real problems in society. It wasn’t a case of sadist government goons being big meanies. When everything was legal we had people (just like now) who couldn’t control their consumption causing all sorts of problems. Prohibition was essentially a big social experiment. Prohibition does reduce consumption - US alcohol Prohibition reduced consumption by about 1/2 - but the side effects arguably cause more damage than the drug/substance itself did. In an effort to enforce Prohibition the government(s) kept upping the penalties thinking that would make it more effective. The result is only marginal gains in compliance and increase in harmful side effects. For some reason, society was willing to accept that in the case of alcohol in the US and re-legalized it, but not on anything else. Why? Now *that *is a debatable question.

Is that the question you want to debate?

First, there is no freedom of “mind expression/physical sensation.” Getting high is not a recognized civil right.

Second, the implicit argument in this thread is that if something is natural, it is okay. I see no reason whatsoever to make any distinction between a chemical compound l-letsgetmessedupithol if it is produced by cute bunnies and flowers in a process that has by-products of sunshine and rainbows, or if it is produced through a hazardous and polluting process controlled by the ConGlomCo Corporation.

Third, the reason why the government can seize contraband and lock people up is because of the police power that every. single. government. ever. has exercised as part of its method of enforcing laws. There are of course checks and balances to this power, such as democratic elections of people who can vote to change laws, to the guarantee of qualified representation in court, to rights to a jury trial.

I hope that answers some of your questions.

You do know that opium, over which innumerable lives have been destroyed, wars fought, international relations ruined, causing the rise and fall of governments is a natural drug, right?

Are you saying that no country, ever, has a right to control/stop the distribution of opium? No matter the damage it causes to it’s people?

For the msot part the government did this because the populace wanted it done.

Whatever the value of the war on drugs (and I agree it’s stupid) you are falsely characterizing it as something the government has imposed on an unaware or willing populace. That is most assuredly not the case; historically the war on drugs had the enthusiastic support of the voters, especially during the 20th century.

As Broomstick points out, opiate addiction was a not-insignificant social problem in the late 19th century, as was alcohol addiction - people back then drank a LOT more than they do today, to the point that alcohol was a legitimate public problem - and so there was an understandable public outcry for something to be done. Less obviously harmful drugs like marijuana got pulled into the mix largely out of association.

Scheduling saliva? Isn’t that what Pavlov did?

Distribution? Maybe. I’d argue against it, but it’s arguable.

Possession and/or use? No. They have no right whatsoever.

I’d have to argue when the majority, in a democracy want it, I think they do have a right.

And I don’t think you could get a majority to vote to legalize opium!

If you don’t schedule them, you’ll have wayyy too many one day, and nowhere near enough the next…

So the majority that wanted slavery and Jim Crow laws in place? They had the right to oppress people?

In the US, “majority rule” was widely (and rightly) considered akin to anarchy and chaos. The Constitution is mainly a document limiting majority rule and protecting the rights of the minority. Personally, I don’t think “majority wants it” is a good justification for anything at all.

Well, no, actually. First of all, the Founding Fathers weren’t worried about “anarchy and chaos,” they were concerned about tyranny. How is “majority rule” akin, in any way, to “anarchy and chaos”? That makes no sense at all.

Secondly, the Constitution is designed to prevent tyranny, not majority rule. Sufficient majority rule could and did ban alcohol, in accordance with the Constitution. It then later reversed that ban, again in accordance with the Constitution.

Obviously “most people want it” isn’t necessarily right, or good policy. I’m no populist, believe me. The point, though, is that the OP is characterizing drug laws as being some sort of religiously motivated form of dictatorial oppression, and that is just fifty-nine different kinds of false. Drug laws are the law of the land because people want them to be. If you want to change the law, you have to convince people to change their minds about it, because it’s NOT being enforced by an iron fist against the will of the people. It’s being enforced with the happy cooperation of the people.

Are you actually saying that legal restrictions on getting high is like a pervasive conspiracy of laws to institutionalize bigotry and racism, or are you just arguing a philosophical point about majoritarianism that we can nod our heads to and move on?