I am the owner that this thread has been
discussing for so long now, and finally felt compelled to respond.
I first wanted to thank many of you for your lucid and thoughtful responses to this topic; it gives me great hope to see that there are so many intelligent beings paying attention to these kinds of issues.
To begin, I think it's terribly disappointing when I see a parent lashing out against an "enemy" that they have decided is luring their child away from being the perfect child that they are trying to raise, rather than looking to their own failings as a parent, without doing any research, and without first trying to discover the root of what they feel the problem is. Professional therapists and psychologists almost all agree that the problem isnít the temptations presented to our children on a daily basis; itís most-often the parentsí inability to listen and to communicate openly and honestly with their child, with understanding and compassion.
Why not, instead of lashing out at the shop or at Salvia divinorum, ask your child questions such as; "What made you commit fraud at 16, and state that you were 18 when you werenít? If you didnít order this product, do you know who might have and why they would have chosen to send it to you? If you did place the order, why do you feel the need to order these products clearly intended for adults? Why didnít you tell us that you were curious about these things, and we could then have done some research together to find out more?"
Or why not ask the countless other questions that would support your child and steer them with the compassionate guidance every adult should know how to give? Education and better parenting is the answer; not blind repression and persecution of your children or shops like ours.
We don't feel that botanicals that have been used safely by numerous indigenous cultures for thousands of years and offered to responsible adults for botanical specimens or for personal education purposes via the internet arenít the problem. I deeply believe that adults should have access to plants and products with such rich medicinal, historical and botanical value, that are integral to many cultures and traditions around the world, that are deeply rooted in religion, in folklore, and in healing both the mind and spirit, with virtually no record of abuse or related deaths to add to their botanical collection or to grow in their gardens.
Products like alcohol and cigarettes are manufactured, poisonous, highly addictive substances causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in this country every single year. Botanicals, ethnobotanicals, and entheogens belong to a larger family of plants such as hops (used to make beer), or valerian root (in your sleeping medication), willow tree extract (used to make aspirin), and countless other herbal products that are familiar and unfamiliar to us all, a part of many of our daily lives, and deeply rooted in various traditions around the world. Some ethnobotanicals (such as Salvia divinorum may even prove to be useful as powerful antidepressants), but we will never know if hasty legislation is passed to make plants like these illegal before anyone gets a chance to research their full potential.
To say that all of these these herbal products are a danger, that they are too easily abused, and that places like my website need to be shut down, rather than the sites selling cigarettes or prescription medication to our kids (now the #1 abuse among teens) is mind-boggling to me. Perhaps if we stop to think about the TOP FOUR substance abuses and problems facing our children and society today in terms of disease and annual death tolls:
3. Prescription medication
Combined, these account for hundreds of thousands of deaths each and every year, not including the 38,000 deaths attributed to second-hand smoke alone.
It's unfair to make assumptions about future safety of a plant, and to then paint a grim picture of "what could happen" as a result, especially when there is no evidence or basis for such an opinion.
56,000 people ended up in the hospital and 120 people died from ingesting acetaminophen last year. This is only ONE of countless over-the-counter drugs that can cause severe side effects, including death, even with normal usage. Common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (though not Tylenol) often cause stomach bleeding. "Conservative calculations," according to the American Journal of Medicine, found they cause "at least 16,500" deaths each year just among arthritis patients alone!
But, instead of looking to oneself, instead of researching the tangible problems plaguing and killing our children, instead of putting all of the energy that has been spent on this thread to find out who I am or to post a name on the internet so something can be done to stop a legal, licensed, tax-paying business that specifically caters to consenting adults and prosecutes any underage attempts to make purchases from us...some have decided that it is more important and that it makes more sense to try to persecute me, a passionate proprietor who believes in his and other people's right to make their own choices, to make free and informed decisions about what they choose to educate themselves about, what legal products they choose to put into their bodies, or what legal plants they choose to grow in their gardens.
We are also losing our precious forests and our diverse species of plants to "special interests" at an alarming rate, and this shop has enabled us to fight for causes we believe in, to do a small part to protect our freedoms, to help save the rain forests, and to educate people about the value of these plants and the traditions associated with them. And we will continue as long as we are able to do so.
Furthermore, I will never understand why people are so willing to give up more and more of their individual rights, their freedoms, the very things that this nation was founded on, to fight an "enemy" that they know nothing about or choose not to find anything out about. Why do so many blindly believe a mega-corporation that funds its own studies to present results that make its medications look safe and effective when they are killing thousands a year? Why do these same people not lobby against the tobacco corporations that purposely concealed the devastating effects that cigarettes would have on our society?
Why allow yourself to be manipulated in this way, and why then continue to try take away the safe alternatives (like Kava Kava; the national drink of Fiji for thousands of years, a place where there is little alcohol abuse) for those who seek such things, practically ensuring that far more harmful products will be even more readily available to them instead? Remember that when giant corporations such as pharmaceutical companies are protecting their market and their money, it is in their best interest to demonize plants such as Kava Kava, which has been shown in numerous clinical trials to be far safer and far more effective than drugs like Prozac and Valuim. These corporations would lose untold billions in profits because they were unable synthesize and patent the ingredients that make Kava Kava so effective. Itís a readily available herb that anyone could buy from any corner supermarket or health food store, and people wouldnít have to rely on expensive medication to help their anxiety or depression; they would never want that.
Why try to take away Salvia divinorum but leave alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, prescription medications, Big Macs (yes, fast food is far more addictive and far more harmful to our children than Salvia divinorum could ever hope to be!), and countless other things doing the real damage? Why are people so unwilling to bend in their beliefs and open their minds to the possibility that maybe what they have been led to believe by the powers that be isnít the whole truth, and often isnít the truth at all?
I don't do anything illegal, nor do I ingest
anything illegal, and I truly believe that education is the key to conservation.
To me, a great way to educate is to share as many botanical specimens as
possible to open-minded and like-minded people, as a way to have this rich and
ancient plant energy around us, to learn about plants with such interesting and
incredible histories, to see these plants first-hand, to hold them, to grow
them, or to examine them in the privacy of our own homes. In addition, it
is a great way to help people like the Cherokee Nation or some indigenous tribes
in the Rain forests of Brazil, because many purchases from our shop help support
an ever-widening group of struggling people, as both ancient cultures and
forests are threatened on a daily basis.
I have great faith in people and their ability to think for themselves, to make a positive difference in their own lives and the lives of those they love. I believe in this great country of ours, and am grateful for my freedom to share the things that I am most passionate about with other like-minded or open-minded adults. There will always be exceptions and abuses, no matter what the product, plant, or substance is. There will always be children trying to get their hands on things they shouldnít, but that doesn't mean we should suddenly remove them from everyoneís hands. I would rather have an adult look to us for some Kava Kava, an herbal smoking blend, or some relaxing Kanna, rather than the corner store for alcohol and tobacco products, to the local nursery for Datura plants and Jimson Weed, to the countless online pharmacies to have Valium or Vicodin overnighted to them, to the Ace Hardware for spray paint, or the grocery store for nutmeg or even worse, to the streets for illegal things finding their way to our children's hands without concern for age or consequence.
We, unlike countless other places, do our absolute best to be vividly clear that anything we have is not intended for children. We are also very strict about the specific products are are clearly not intended for human consumption, and will not sell to ANYONE who we suspect will introduce into their bodies any of the products that are meant specifically for herbarium specimens, for legitimate educational purposes, for ornamental purposes, or as beautiful additions to gardens that preserve the plants revered by ancient cultures. (You can read our Terms & Conditions HERE; they must be digitally signed before the checkout process will complete.)
Finally, to base a judgment on an exceptions and half-truths is not giving yourself the credit you deserve as a free, intelligent individual. To lash out against someone before doing the research or before looking to your own shortcomings is not utilizing the power you have as a reasoning, thinking being. All I ask is for you to contemplate, honestly, what I have presented here. We may never agree, but maybe sometime in the future you will stop and think for a moment longer than you would have otherwise, maybe you will be inspired to find out more about the truth or to question your own truth, maybe you will have just a little more compassion and understanding for others than you did before, or maybe you will take an extra moment with your child and treat them just a bit more like the beautiful, thinking, individual beings that they really are, hungry for love and support from their parents.
- I Am Shaman