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NJ to Crackdown on Salvia Use

Friday, May 19, 2006

The state of New Jersey is following in the footsteps of Delaware to crackdown on a potent drug that can be bought legally on the Internet. The death of a Delaware teen prompted that state to take drastic measures. Now his parents are joining forces with New Jersey lawmakers to bring a version of Brett's law to the Garden State.

After the death of a Delaware teen in January from a drug he bought legally on the Internet, his parents are now joining forces with lawmakers in NJ to bring a version of what's known as Brett's Law to the Garden State. "I think the combination of depression and salvia, it was lethal for him." Kathy Chidester of Pike Creek, Delaware is talking about her 17-year-old son Brett, an honor student who committed suicide in January after experimenting with an herb called salvia divinorum - also known as "Sage" and "Sally B". Native to Mexico, salvia is chewed or smoked and is considered the most powerful hallucinogen on earth with effects similar to LSD.

Salvia is not on the radar screen for most parents and police, but can be purchased cheaply and legally on the Internet where teens openly discuss its mind-altering effects. Kathy Chidester/mother: "He wrote that it made him feel useless, pointless, his existence here meant nothing." After Brett's death Delaware banned the substance and now New Jersey lawmakers want to do the same. Assm. Jack Conners/D-Burlington County: "We need what I call a preemptive strike to crack down on its availability so people like Brett wont be tempted to experiment with it." They're starting with the state-by-state approach, but legislators from New Jersey and Delaware say it would make more sense for the federal government to ban the sales and possession of salvia-divinorum nationwide. Assm. Linda Stender/D-Union County: "We are banding together today to call upon the federal drug administration to categorize this hallucinogenic herb as a controlled dangerous substance." Right now the DEA lists salvia as a "drug of concern". That's not enough for Brett Chidester's parents, who are using their son's death to try to save other kids who are experimenting with this potent and currently legal drug.

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