For the past month, Jimson weed has been illegal in Oklahoma. Under a law that was passed in April and went into effect November 1st, the weirdly psychoactive member of the datura family (datura stramonium), known folklorically for making sheep crazy, is now bizarrely considered a "synthetic controlled substance," with punishments of up to a year in jail for possession to up to life in prison for distribution. The law is seemingly designed to make it illegal to get high on anything Oklahoma authorities had not previously gotten around to outlawing. It defines a "synthetic controlled substance" as "a substance, whether synthetic or naturally occurring, that is not a controlled dangerous substance, but which produces a like or similar physiological or psychological effect on the human central nervous system that currently has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and has a potential for abuse."
The law is the direct result of an incident last year at Mustang High School, where 10 students became ill after ingesting the weed. According to the Associated Press, Mustang schools superintendent Karl Springer approached lawmakers to pass the law after police informed him they had no law with which to charge the students. "When this incident happened, our police department wasn't able to do anything because there were no laws on the books regarding jimson weed," Springer said.
Led by Rep. Ray Young (R-Yukon) and Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson (R-Oklahoma City), who sponsored the bill outlawing Jimson weed, the state legislature was eager to comply.
While both the Associated Press and state law enforcement spokesmen portrayed the law as being aimed solely at the use of Jimson weed as an intoxicant, that's not what the law says: "Except when authorized by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, cultivate, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a synthetic controlled substance."
Thus, the law could be applied against grandma growing opium poppies for their pretty bulbs or a rancher with Jimson weed in his field, and presumably against those little shops that sell salvia divinorum, the psychotropic Mexican member of the mint family.
Oklahoma -- leading the way in fighting the Jimson weed menace.
Read the Oklahoma law, HB 2166, at http://www2.lsb.state.ok.us/2003-04HB/hb2166_enr.rtf online. Find out more about Jimson weed at the Vaults of Erowid, http://www.erowid.org/plants/datura/datura.shtml online.