Datura is the source of Haitian zombie legends. They weren't really zombies, but they were poisoned to look like they were dead with tetradotoxin and then unearthed and given datura or its derivatives on a regular basis. This plant causes delirium. It's not the typical sorts of hallucinations. You lose total touch with reality and hallucinate people, things, and events around yourself that aren't there and have no idea of it. Datura has been used not only by Haitian voodoo 'witches' to create mind control slaves but its derivatives such as scopolamine are sometimes used by criminals to assist in theft (including incidents where they commanded the victim to clean out their house for them) or worse, rape. I'm normally against banning drugs, but this isn't just a drug, this is a weapon and it's effects are so unpleasant that its recreational value is so low compared to it's potential to be used as a weapon that I think we're justified in banning it. Ironically, with so many drugs illegal in the United States this one is still legal.
I believe all plants should be legal. No plant is bad, only the way people use them can potentially be (Example: tobacco, which the US government has lobbied around the world to open up markets in foreign countries to sell. Hypocrisy?). While datura contains potent alkaloids, it is not addictive and the effects from consumption are not at all pleasurable. And it does have some use medicinally and is a natural part of the environment. Despite the bad reputation, datura does not often kill people and only a sparse few people truly harm themselves with it, doing so by knowingly going against ample warnings and trying to "trip" off it (don't try it, you will not have a "trip," you will just cause yourself great suffering and potential harm if you ingest an excessive amount). Stories that claim it turns you into a totally submissive zombie are not correct. It is not a "weapon" unless someone chooses to poison you with it (which is something someone could do more effectively with any number of readily available substances). Banning a life form is wrong, especially one that is native to the environment.
Firstly, it's impractical and it would be almost impossibly costly to actually go forward with. Datura is a common NATIVE plant that grows even in desert regions, and as a desert plant, has seeds that may remain viable for years. It has been found in 47 of the lower 48 states. It grows anywhere from disturbed soils to cattle ranges and BLM lands. Who will pay for removal of all these weeds everywhere, and to vigilantly ensure that no more plants keep popping up from dormant seeds or root segments everywhere that this plant can be found?
Secondly, even if it could be effectively removed from use for most Americans, Native people still have a valid claim to it. Datura has been used for visionary and divinatory purposes for many hundreds of years. The Aztecs, Navajo, and Zuni are known to have used it - among others. It is a cultural sacrament.
Third... Too few studies have been done on this plant and its effects, so the medical community is largely unaware of this substance or its effects, and they don't know how to handle it. They may see the patient delirious and unable to speak, and then throw EVERYTHING THEY CAN at the poor patient, risking their life with the treatment, and then tell their family that "that plant almost made the patient die", when the patient would have been fine with time.
Fourth, some people are ignorant or self destructive thrillseekers. Overdoses are always possible, and cocktails of ANY drugs, even fully legal or OTC ones can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing... As some MAOI patients can attest, even mixing MAO drugs with certain FOODS can be dangerous!
Fifth, it wouldn't remove the underlying problem. Young people want to have "experiences" and explore themselves. If this plant is removed from their use, there are hundreds of other plants and chemicals that could be used... Many of which are just as dangerous if not more so. I venture that widespread use of visionary substances may actually point to something _deficient_ within ourselves or our culture... Disillusionment with modern life, desire to touch the "otherworld".... These people have a need that is not being filled. Perhaps it would be more helpful to open dialogue and find out WHY this is such a problem, and try to address the actual problem?
Lastly, I want to point out that this plant's unfortunate use as a drug does not support drug cartels, unlike marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. It grows almost everywhere for free, so it can't fund gangs or gun violence, and unless it has been mixed with other drugs, does not contribute to violent behavior (as legal alcohol can and often does). Generally, the only risk to someone on Datura is to themselves. Datura poisonings are rare, much rarer than overdoses with prescription/OTC drugs. It therefore cannot be classified as a serious societal problem, and therefore it is not truly in need of yet more expensive regulation.
I think that we have reached a point in our history as a country where we need to realize that enough is enough. We need to stop making everything we can think of against the law, and need to accept the fact that some things should just be left alone.
Datura is a naturally growing plant. Even though it has negative effects upon ingestion, outlawing it would be next to impossible. It would require vast amounts of resources to destroy it as well as punish those who use it for whatever reason, not to mention the environment would be affected by its destruction.
With so much going on right now in the world, why focus on a drug that is currently being used legally? I'm sure that if you inspect every single drug that you can eventually find flaws in it or ways to abuse it that will make it a good candidate to be illegal. I could always try to slowly poison someone with Aspirin if I wanted to. Enough of this legal drug would kill someone.
Just because something can be used as a poison does not mean it should be banned. Bleach could be used as a poison. Will they ban this as well? It is completely absurd to ban something because of what it could do. Besides, there are plenty of things that could be dangerous, not only by themselves, but also when used in combination with other stuff. Look at the ingredients to make homemade bombs. Should the government ban everything that could possibly pose a threat? It would turn into the same thing as the war on drugs. It would be yet another useless waste of taxpayers money.