Proposal would outlaw hallucinogenic plant salvia

By chillinwill · Feb 9, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Justice officials in Kentucky are pushing to criminalize a popular and potent hallucinogenic herb called Salvia that some users report gives them out-of-body experiences.

    Salvia divinorum, which is usually smoked or chewed, is outlawed in 13 states, but is legal in Kentucky. It is available online and at head shops across the state.

    The fact that users nationwide have posted more than 5,000 videos of themselves getting high on You Tube is drawing the attention of state legislators across the country, including state Rep. Will Coursey, D-Benton.

    Coursey has introduced a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to possess, cultivate or traffic in Salvia.

    John Mendelson, a physician and pharmacologist at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, said users tell him that the experience usually lasts about 10 minutes and can be disturbing because users think their body is turning into an object, like a cube or a stone.

    "It's a short-lived high," said Coursey.

    The lawmaker said he was especially troubled by reports that, when the herb wears off, users often can't remember what they did.

    Coursey said he heard about the drug in talking with youth group leaders in Western Kentucky who encouraged him to file the legislation.

    House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, is co-sponsoring the bill.

    "During my time in the legislature, and especially as attorney general, I have heard far too many stories of Kentuckians getting trapped in the drug culture, and it appears that Salvia could be the next gateway drug for many," he said. "We need to stop that before it gets a foothold in the state."

    A report from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health found that 1.8 million Americans age 12 or older had used Salvia.

    The Kentucky bill, said Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the state Justice Cabinet, "is something that we've been pushing."

    "We see it as a growing problem," she said. "We are just trying to stay ahead of the curve."

    Coursey said that Kentucky State Police officials and Van Ingram, acting director of Kentucky's Office of Drug Control Policy, are among the bill's proponents.

    "The last thing we need in Kentucky is another substance for people in Kentucky to be abusing," said Ingram.

    Ingram said he's heard anecdotally of its use by students on Kentucky campuses.

    Brad Green, an employee at Purple Haze, a retail shop on Lexington's Versailles Road, says the store sells Salvia at amounts ranging from $25 to $75 a gram, depending on its strength.

    "It's pretty popular," Green said.

    Scott Saville, who works at Botany Bay on Winchester Road in Lexington, agrees that it's popular, but says he doesn't see many repeat customers because smoking Salvia can have disconcerting effects.

    "Some people who try it don't use it again," he said.

    Online vendors suggest that people not use Salvia alone and have someone who is sober sitting with them.

    Mary Morgan, owner of Sqecial Media, a store near the University of Kentucky campus, says she won't sell Salvia because it is mind-altering.

    "We get asked for it a zillion times a day, but we don't sell it," Morgan said.

    Under Coursey's bill, possession of Salvia would be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days. Cultivation of Salvia would be a Class A misdemeanor, which could bring up to 12 months in jail. Trafficking in salvia would also be a misdemeanor, and the penalty would depend upon the amount.

    Mendelson, the medical researcher, said the effects of using Salvia remain unclear. Until there's more research, he thinks Salvia should be regulated, but not criminalized.

    Despite the short-term sensations of discomfort, Mendelson said, there have been no reports nationwide of trips to the emergency room by users, no traffic accidents as a result of Salvia reported and no overdoses. Physicians have reported that one woman had a psychiatric episode from mixing marijuana and Salvia, he said, and a medical examiner in one suicide case in Delaware noted that the suicide was a user of Salvia.

    "We don't have a lot of evidence that Salvia is harmful," Mendelson said.

    In fact, Mendelson said, researchers think that some components of Salvia could be helpful in treating depression, pain and drug addiction.

    The Lexington police department hasn't had recorded complaints about Salvia, said a spokesman, Officer Chris Sutton. But Sutton said the department supports the legislation because it aims to make the public safer.

    "If it has detrimental effects on its users," Sutton says, "it concerns us."

    House Bill 228 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.

    By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
    Monday, Feb. 09, 2009

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Salvia Bill Advances

    A western Kentucky lawmaker is trying, again, to make the natural plant, salvia, an illegal drug in Kentucky. Related to the mint family, salvia can cause intense hallucinations similar to LSD when smoked, chewed or drank as a tea.

    "And after the young people found out that they could get high off of it through You Tube and other things like that we've kind of seen it explode, Cheyenne Albro, Executive Director of the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force told lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. “We've actually had businesses that have been built around the sale of this and not only businesses on the internet and I understand even local businesses in Lexington and Louisville possibly.”

    The bill, which would make it illegal to possess, grow or sell salvia passed the committee and moves to the full House for consent. An identical bill passed the House last year but did not come up for a vote in the Senate.


    WEDNESDAY, 03 FEBRUARY 2010 17:20

    COMMENT Another case where sellers, marketing largely to youth, bear a large part of blame. There was no move to ban Salvia in the US until it started being prepared/packaged and market to largely younger consumers.
  2. Greenport
    I think personally that salvia should be legal to possess for people 18 and older (or even 21 and older) but there should be obvious restrictions on its possession use and sale to children and teenagers. Furthermore it needs to be kept out of schools and schoolkids who are caught with the drug should be disciplined accordingly.

    I also think that it should be a serious crime to 'trick' somebody into smoking salvia. It is a powerful and intense drug and people will get scared if they use it without knowing what's going on - and should be akin to drugging somebody with any other substance without their knowledge.

    That being said, if a person over 18 wants to use the drug, I think it should be that person's freedom to do so in this state and country! Unless the drug is causing an adverse social or health effect on a large subset of the population (which past people posting vids of themselves tripping on youtube there is NOT!) there should not be any attempt to regulate it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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