Salvia a new LEGAL drug
Few police, teachers or counselors have even heard of it, but the drug salvia — a powerful psychedelic herb from Mexico — is legal in the U.S. and easily purchased over the counter in Medford or on eBay.
Also known as Diviner’s Sage or Sally-D, salvia divinorum is extremely intense, say those who have tried it. They say it is as powerful or more so than LSD and produces vivid, often terrifying hallucinations and out-of-body experiences lasting five to 10 minutes. Effects vary widely; a few users report little or no effect.
The herb is sold at Magic Man in the Bear Creek Shopping Center in various strengths for $11.95 to $44.95. In Ashland, Zen Den doesn’t sell it and Puff’s used to but stopped.
Theresa Jermain of Medford called police when a 17-year-old high school student, for whom she is guardian, bought salvia at Magic Man and, after smoking it, told her he "got real high" and it was "way too strong."
After checking out the shop, police reported back to Jermain that the drug was not illegal and there was nothing they could do, she said.
The student, "Chris," who asked not to be identified by his full name, said he smoked it with 15 fellow South Medford High School students and that only three of them had a "good trip" – the rest being "very bad." Students, he added, are little aware of the drug and it’s not being much used there.
He described his experience as an "out-of-body experience in a totally different world" followed by a bad "body high," in which he felt sick and awkward and couldn’t move. With a cell phone, he videoed another student on salvia hallucinating and trying to crawl out the back window of a car, he said.
Sheriff’s Lt. Dewey Patten, commander of the Jackson County Narcotics Enforcement Team, said he wasn’t aware of the drug. "I don’t know what we’d do if we found someone whacked on it, because it’s not illegal," he said.
Jan Janssen, community outreach officer with Ashland Police, said she’d never encountered it, but after consulting the drug Web site erowid.org, said it’s surprising that it’s legal, considering that most users report unfavorable experiences. Ashland officers trained as drug recognition experts do know the drug and can spot its effects, she said.
Patten consulted a comprehensive drug reference, "Uppers, Downers and All-Arounders," co-written by Ashlander William Cohen, who also lectures and makes films about psychoactive drugs.
Salvia, wrote Cohen, is similar to PCP and originates among the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico, who use it to induce dreamlike hallucinations, delirium and out-of-body experiences, so as to seek out the causes of illness.
The effects, or "trip," last up to 10 minutes, tapering off over half an hour, with the nature of the trip dependent on the person’s mind-set and surroundings.
"Cliff," a 19-year-old from Ashland who asked not to be identified, called salvia an "anti-drug drug" because his trip was so intense that it turned him off alcohol and drugs.
"In my first trip, my legs turned to a waterfall of tears," said Cliff. "The second time, I thought, seriously, that I had died and that my soul was being sucked out of me. It was the most intense thing I’ve ever done. Coming off it, I felt needles were coming out of my body. It definitely had teaching value because I was abusing (alcohol and drugs) and it gave me a lot of insight about what I was doing."
Magic Man owner John Hopf said salvia is sold as an incense or meditative aid like sage — and that customers learn about it on the Internet and come in to buy it. Although Hopf said he knows of no psychedelic properties for the plant, his store had a stack of printouts from a government Web site warning that salvia is a powerful hallucinogen.
"Pete," 27, another Medford resident who used salvia and asked not to be identified, said he had bought salvia from Magic Man seven or eight times. He described it as "a meditative thing that helps you feel a reality outside the ordinary reality and become one with yourself, as a unity."
He added, "It’s very personal, not smoke-a-bowl-and-relax."
"Max," an 18-year-old senior at North Medford High School who bought salvia last week at Magic Man and declined to be identified, said friends suggested he try it. "I’m curious. I’ll probably feel good for a while and hallucinate. They said it was worth the money for the feeling you get."
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has the plant under review based on its potential abuse, availability and effects on users, said DEA public affairs officer Lauren Alder in Washington, D.C.
"The DEA lists it as ‘of concern,’ but just because it’s not listed as a controlled substance doesn’t mean it’s healthy or safe," said Alder. "The medical profession stresses the danger of it."
The DEA welcomes comments at its Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section: 202-307-8570 (fax) or 202-307-7183 (phone).
Three years ago, staff Oregonian columnist Margie Boule branded salvia "the most powerful natural hallucinogen known on earth."
"Salvia divinorum is a wild ride," wrote Boule. "This is not a drug that simply makes people play Beatles’ records backward. It induces powerful hallucinations that sometimes are terrifying."
Salvia is illegal in Australia, Italy, Denmark, Norway and South Korea. California Rep. Joe Baca in 2002 introduced a bill to ban it in the U.S., but, says erowid.org, it is chemically different from schedule I and II drugs, so it is not covered by the federal law used to ban drugs.
Other names: Diviner’s Sage, Sally-D
Cost: Sold in various strengths for from $11.95 to $44.95 a bag
Use: Similar to PCP, intense hallucinations lasting for 5-10 minutes when the drug is smoked
Legal use: An incense or meditative aid, akin to sage
Federal position: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has the plant under review. The government classifies it as a psychoactive terpenoid, with effects similar to mescaline
Why is it still legal? Chemically differences from schedule I and II drugs mean it is not covered by the federal law used to ban drug
SB 38 from 2007 did not pass. Senate Bill (SB) 52 would add Salvia divinorum to Schedule IIA. See Bill Text 26th Legislature. (last updated Feb 26, 2009) (thanks S)
Effective Jan 1 2009, sale of Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A to anyone under the age of 18 will be a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to 6 months or a $1,000 fine (see AB 259 history, text of law).
SB259 ("Brett's Law") was signed on May 2, 2006, adding Salvia divinorum to schedule I of the Delaware state controlled substances law. Reference. Salvinorin A is not covered by the law. (thanks L)
Effective July 1, 2008, Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A have been added to Florida's list of Schedule I controlled substances, making them illegal to possess, buy, or sell. The law exempts from control any drug product containing Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A that has been approved by the FDA. (see text of bill).
Senate Bill 295, introduced Mar 1, 2007, would outlaw salvinorin A and the growth of Salvia divinorum "other than for esthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes". Violations of this law would be a misdemeanor under the currently-proposed bill. Bill was approved by senate and moved on to the House on Mar 27th. See SB295 text and history. (last updated May 21, 2007)
Effective Jan 1, 2008, Salvia divinorum (including any plant part, extraction, or preperation) is included in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act list of Schedule I substances, making it illegal to possess or sell. (text of law) (Illinois Controlled Substances Act) News: New Year, New Laws, Dec 25 2007 Chicago Tribune.
Senate Study Bill 1051 was introduced in January 2007, proposing to add Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A to the state's list of Schedule I controlled substances. The bill would have made it a class "C" felony to "manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to manufacture or deliver, Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A". The bill was replaced by the nearly-identical bill SB 226. Reference: ODCP Update. (last updated May 1, 2007) (thanks S)
On April 24, 2008 Kansas SB 481 was signed into law, adding Salvia divinorum to the state's list of Schedule I controlled substances, the most restrictive category. The law restricts "all parts of the plant presently classified botanically as Salvia divinorum, whether growing or not..." and "any extract from any part of such plant, and every compound, manufacture, salts, isomers and salts of isomers [of the plant]...", which would presumably include salvinorin A. (see text of bill)
The Kentucky legislature is adding Salvia divinorum to Schedule I (KRS 218A.050). Expected to become law in March, April, May, or June 2009. (last updated Feb 26, 2009) (thanks S)
Effective Aug 8, 2005 (signed into law Jun 28, 2005) Louisiana Act No 159 makes 40 plants illegal, including S. divinorum, when intended for human consumption. The law specifically excludes the "possession, planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting" of these plants if used "strictly for aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes." (Text of HLS_05RS-52 (orig) and Update Jun 2005)
On May 15, 2007 state bill LD 66 was signed into law, making it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, possess, or use Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A. The original bill, which would have banned Salvia altogether, was rewritten after public hearings. (last updated Jun 1, 2007) (thanks M, S)
Effective July 1 2008, Salvia divinorum has been added to Mississippi's list of Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to buy, sell, or possess (see text of SB 2456, bill history). The law does not specifically mention salvinorin A. (thanks BH, SLL, A1)
On Aug 28, 2005 House Bill 633 was incorporated into 195.017 of Missouri's drug regulation statutes. S. divinorum and salvinorin A became Schedule I substances in that state. As far as Erowid knows, Missouri was the first state in the U.S. to schedule S. divinorum or its active chemical. http://www.moga.state.mo.us/statutes...rs/chap195.htm. Violation of this law is a felony. (thanks Q)
Legislative Bill 123 : "Salvia divinorum or Salvinorin A. Salvia divinorum or Salvinorin A includes all parts of the plant presently classified botanically as Salvia divinorum, whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, any extract from any part of such plant, and every compound, manufacture, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds, or its extracts, including salts, isomers, and salts of isomers..." Expected to take effect sometime in 2009. (last updated Feb 26, 2009) (thanks S)
New Jersey #
Senate Bill 1867 and the identical Assembly Bill 3139 which would classify Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A as Schedule I controlled substances in the state, were submitted on Apr 6, 2006. As of May 2, 2007, neither bill has been subject to a vote, and both are probably dead. References: Press Release. (last updated May 2, 2007) (thanks S)
Mention in news about Northern Monmouth includes the following curious text: "GRAND TOUR: Two 15-year-old borough males were charged on Sept. 10 with illegal possession of Salvia divinorum with intent to distribute by Sgt. Kevin Roake." (thanks E)
New York #
State Bill 610, introduced Jan 3, 2007, would prohibit sale of Salvia divinorum. The bill was re-designated S00695 and passed the State Senate on Feb 28, 2007. It has been awaiting vote in the State Assembly for some time. The bill does not specify control of salvinorin A. Track bill history here. (last updated May 2, 2007) (thanks S)
A similar law failed to pass in 2005. Reference: State Targets Tripped Out Herb - Long Island Press, Jun 16 2005. (thanks E) (last updated May 1, 2007)
North Dakota #
Senate Bill 2317 was signed into law April 26, 2007, adding Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A to the state's list of Schedule I controlled substances. Reference: bill history. (thanks S)
As of Apr 1, 2009, Salvia divinorum is now controlled in Ohio. See codes.ohio.gov/orc/3719.41 and Independent Collegian. (thanks J) (last updated Apr 13, 2009)
Effective Nov 1 2008, Oklahoma's existing controls on salvia have been dramatically increased. Salvia and salvinorin A are listed in the state's Schedule I controlled substances (most restrictive, see OK Schedule I). Possession is now a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in jail, and the distribution of salvia is punishable by 5 years to life in prison. (see article)
House bill 2494 was entered into the house. If passed the bill will criminalize salvinorin A and Salvia divinorum:
Creates crime of unlawful possession of salvinorin A or Salvia divinorum. Punishes by maximum of one year's imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both. Creates crime of unlawful manufacture or delivery of salvinorin A or Salvia divinorum. Punishes by maximum of 20 years imprisonment, $375,000 fine, or both. Requires State Board of Pharmacy to classify salvinorin A or Salvia divinorum as Schedule I controlled substance.
[ Relating to Salvia divinorum; creating new provisions; and amending ORS 475.840. ]
As of May 2, 2007, this bill does not appear to have passed. Two similar bills previously failed to pass in 2003. (thanks J, S)
On March 29, 2007, Senate Bill 710 was introduced which would add Salvia divinorum to the state's list of Schedule I controlled substances. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, and is currently in limbo. (last updated Apr 30, 2007)
South Dakota #
HB 1090 - Feb 24 2009 : An act to prohibit the possession of Salvia divinorum and make it a class 1 misdemeanor to possess up to two ounces of Salvia divinorum and a Class 6 felony to possess more than two ounces. This law is expected to pass and take effect in March, April, or May 2009. (last updated Feb 26, 2009) (thanks S)
Tennessee has made it a class A misdemeanor to "knowingly produce, manufacture, distribute, possess or possess with intent to produce, manufacture, or distribute the active chemical ingredient in the hallucinogenic plant Salvia divinorum A", along with the strangely-worded caveat that this prohibition does not apply to "the possession, planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting of such hallucinogenic plant strictly for aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes." Upon approval, SB3247 was designated TCA 39-17-452. The law took effect on Jul 1, 2006. See also: Ban on hallucinogenic passed by House (last updated May 2006) (thanks E and MG)
March 2007 saw the introduction of three bills to control Salvia divinorum in the state of Texas. All three of them appear to have failed, and new action is not expected until the next legislative session. The three bills are HB3784 (Bill history), HB 2347 (Bill history), and HB 1796 (Bill history). (last updated Aug 16, 2007) (thanks S, C)
In 2007 House Bill 190 was introduced but did not pass. The bill would have added Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A to the state's list of controlled substances. Reference: Salt Lake Tribune, Oct 17 2007. (last updated Oct 2007)
Effective July 1, 2008, salvinorin A will be included in Virginia's list of Schedule I substances and will be illegal to buy, sell, or possess without a license. The law does not specifically mention Salvia divinorum, which will presumably be illegal by extension. (see text of HB21 and bill history). (thanks W)
WI AB 477, introduced in 2007, would have made salvinorum A illegal to manufacture, possess, or deliver. The bill died in March 2008 (see bill history). As of July 2008, no new bills are in process in the state. (thanks C)
HB 0049 was introduced in 2006, and died without coming to a vote. (last updated Apr 30, 2007)