The US tradition of jumping on the media bandwagon about certain populist stories has spread to the Indian subcontinent. A newspaper article I read recently in an Indian newspaper claimed that “Drug abuse in young people continues to be a problem in New York” as more people are using Salvia. Once again this is incredibly biased reporting which, as you may have noticed, I take exception to. The article goes on to claim that tens of thousands of ‘youngsters’ in their 20s are taking the drug.

Naturally, as is usually the case with ludicrous claims like these, there is no science or fact behind any of the claims. But it is not that riles me the most. What gets me right in the guts is the sheer cheek of instantly associating Salvia — and the use of Salvia — as being a problem. Why is this? Why would it be a problem? Is it that the author has a particular problem with Salvia? Or, as is more likely, is it just that they don’t know anything about the drug and instead leap onto the bandwagon as a friendly gesture towards the reader (who knows no better, either)?

The article continues with the statement that “Salvia can be bought online for 12 dollars an ounce”. Of course what this little statement of fact leaves out is that Salvia is sold and bought entirely legally online. And in fact on shops, too. The framing of this statement just makes it look suspicious. It is not! This is not some dark back alley deal somewhere: Salvia is sold in Gas Stations and on the high street! Of course the article does have to mention this legality, and does so later in the article. But as the author well knows, the reader has already made up her mind by that point.

This relentless bad reporting of Salvia has what has driven it into minds of those lawmakers and politicians that have their minds made up for them.