Monday was the first day to file bills for the next session of the Texas legislature, and by day's end, two different bills addressing salvia divinorum had been filed. One would criminalize its possession, making it a Class A misdemeanor, while another would bar its sale to people under the age of 18.
Salvia divinorum is an hallucinogenic member of the mint family that has been used for centuries for religious purposes by the Masatec Indians of southern Mexico. In the past few years, awareness of the plant's psychedelic qualities has resulted in a spike of interest in it. It is currently sold in head shops, smoke shops, other outlets, and on the Internet. Although about a dozen states have moved to either ban it outright or restrict its sales, the DEA, which has been studying salvia for years now, has not moved to place it on the schedule of federally controlled substances.
State Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson (R-Waco) doesn't want to wait for the feds any longer. On Monday, Anderson filed House Bill 126 to ban possession of the plant.
"With a single use they can cause some serious, serious damage to their brain and their mental function and it causes hallucinations primarily, as the name would indicate," Anderson told the Waco Tribune. "It's a potent hallucinogen and we start to see some flashbacks scenarios and things like that from even one time use," he said.
Not one to shy away from the spotlight, Anderson appeared the following day on the Dr. Phil show during a segment on risky teen behavior. "I hope my appearance on the Dr. Phil show will help to educate people on the dangers of salvia and the nationwide exposure will help lend more credibility to our testimony," Anderson said, explaining that he was moved to act after a constituent's daughter suffered a bad experience with the plant.
The other salvia bill, Senate Bill 257, is much less restrictive. It would make it a Class C misdemeanor to supply salvia to a minor. The bill says that being an employee of a shop that sold salvia would not be a defense, but selling it to someone with an apparently valid ID who turned out to be a minor would.
If either bill passes the legislature, it would go into effect next September 1.
from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #560, 11/14/08