Brett Chidester’s case is a tragic one. In January 2006 the 17 year old student from Delaware committed suicide though inhalation of Carbon Monoxide. That his untimely death was a tragedy is without question. The controversy surrounding Chidester’s death is entered around Brett’s Law, as it is called: the move by his parents and concerned well wishers to blame his death on heavy Salvia use

That Brett used Salvia is not a new revelation, and in fact his mother had challenged him about this some months before; Brett claimed to have halted his experimentation with the drug and was, he said, clean. His mother does not believe this to be the case.

After their son’s tragic death the Chidesters blamed Salvia for his state of mind and, consequently, for his death. Brett’s mother started a campaign in which some success was gleaned: Delaware classified Salvia as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Mrs. Chidester’s focus then turned to Ethnosupply, a Canadian Internet company that sold the Salvia with which Brett was experimenting. Salvia is completely legal in the US – though now it is not in some selected states – and the practice of buying over the Internet is a common one.

One can easily empathise with Mr and Mrs Chidester who have lost their son in terrible circumstances, and that they want to blame someone – or something – is completely understandable. Their claim that Salvia killed their son is a difficult one to prove, though.

In fact there is no evidence at all that Salvia is dangerous to the body or the mind, and Brett’s death was not shown to have resulted from his earlier use of Salvia. No deaths have been reported since. To aim to ban the drug – presumably to get closure over what Brett’s parents feel is an injustice – is to blame the wrong culprit. Surely the things that caused Brett to be in this state of mind should be addressed, and not a harmless drug that he happened to be using a few months before?