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Harm Reduction: Washington State Good Samaritan Bill Would Protect Those Bringing Overdosed Friends to Medical Care

More than 700 people died of drug overdoses in Washington state in 2006, up from a little over 400 in 1999. In an effort to blunt that trend, state Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) has introduced HB 1796, which would provide limited immunity from prosecution for drug possession for people seeking assistance for friends or relatives suffering from a drug overdose. At present, New Mexico is the only state to have passed such a "Good Samaritan" law.

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Roger Goodman
Many overdose deaths occur because friends of the victim delay or completely avoid seeking medical treatment for fear they will end up being arrested themselves. That fear is one of the most significant barriers to getting help for OD victims.

The bill would prevent Good Samaritans from being prosecuted for drug possession, but not drug manufacture or distribution offenses. The bill also provides the same immunities for drug overdose victims. A second section of the bill legalizes the use of the opioid antagonist naloxone to treat overdoses.

Before becoming an elected official, Goodman earned an impressive reputation in the drug law reform community and the legal community as head of the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project. Now, he has moved from advocating change to legislating change.

The bill was introduced January 29 and passed the House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on February 18 in amended version. On Thursday, it was returned to the Rules Committee for a second reading.

Update: HB 1796, and its companion bill sponsored by Sen. Rosa Franklin, SB 5516, did not come up for a vote before Thursday's cutoff.

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Passes House Civil Justice Committee Without Dissent

Minnesota Cares logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
MARCH 11, 2009

Medical Marijuana Passes House Civil Justice Committee Without Dissent


CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- The House version of Minnesota's medical marijuana bill passed the House Civil Justice Committee this morning in a voice vote with no dissenting votes. The vote came after powerful testimony from Joni Whiting, whose adult daughter's suffering was relieved by medical marijuana while she was undergoing treatment for the melanoma that eventually took her life.

    "It really feels like the momentum is building and this is the year we're going to get this done," said Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. "One-quarter of the country now protects medical marijuana patients from arrest, and there is simply no reason to use Minnesota's police resources to arrest the sick for trying to relieve their suffering."

    A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee in the 2007-2008 session, but was never brought up for a vote on the House floor.

    Thirteen states, comprising approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population, now permit medical use of marijuana under state law if a physician has recommended it. The newest such law was enacted by Michigan voters last November, passing with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed on Feb. 25 that the Obama administration intends to pursue a policy of non-interference with these state laws. A number of other states are considering medical marijuana legislation this year, including New Jersey, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire.

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Location: 
St. Paul, MN
United States

Press Advisory: Medical Marijuana Bill Faces House Civil Justice Committee Hearing Wednesday

Minnesota Cares logo

MEDIA ADVISORY   
MARCH 10, 2009  

Medical Marijuana Bill Faces House Civil Justice Committee Hearing Wednesday

CONTACT: Former Rep. Chris DeLaForest (R-Andover)......................................................(763) 439-1178

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- Fresh off of a resounding 6-2 victory in the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division, Minnesota's medical marijuana bill faces its next House committee test in the Civil Justice Committee this Wednesday. If passed, the measure would make Minnesota the 14th state to permit medical use of marijuana by seriously ill patients with a physician's recommendation. The newest such law, in Michigan, was passed by voters in November with a record-setting 63 percent "yes" vote.

    WHAT: House Civil Justice Committee hearing and vote on medical marijuana legislation.

    WHO: Expected witnesses include Joni Whiting, whose adult daughter benefited from medical marijuana during treatment for the melanoma that eventually took her life, and Robert Youcha of St. Francis, a paramedic who suffered spinal injuries in a 1998 ambulance accident, leaving him in constant pain.

    WHEN: Wednesday, March 11, 8:30 a.m.

    WHERE: Rm. 10, State Office Building, St. Paul.

####

Location: 
St. Paul, MN
United States

CO: Vote on Medical Marijuana POSTPONED

**ALERT**

Grassroots power forces Board of Health to postpone vote on medical marijuana

 

March 18 Hearing date is delayed

GOOD NEWS!    The Colorado Board of Health has officially postponed its vote on restricting medical marijuana patients rights.  This vote was previously scheduled for March 18th and will be moved to a date to be announced-- likely in June.

This delay is a direct result of the overwhelming grassroots response the Board received when it announced this vote-- including the hundreds of emails and letters sent by supporters like yourself.  

After receiving this response, the state decided to delay the vote to secure a room large enough to accommodate the many, many patients and supporters that care about this issue.  

Click HERE to support Sensible Colorado's important-- and effective-- work.   

On behalf of Colorado's over 5000 medical marijuana patients, thank you for responding to Sensible Colorado's action alerts (and those of our partners at MPP, ASA, SAFER, and Norml). 

For now, medical marijuana patients in Colorado can breathe a sigh of relief.  But we will need your help again in June.  Keep an eye out for further action alerts and donate today to support our work.  Every dollar we raise allows us to keep fighting this threat to safe access.   

In solidarity,

Brian Vicente

Executive Director 

www.sensiblecolorado.org  

Location: 
CO
United States

Incarceration: Too Many Americans Behind Bars at Too High a Cost, Says Pew Study

American states spent about $52 billion on corrections last year, the vast majority of it on prisons, and that's not smart, the Pew Center on the States said in a report released Monday. As a cost saving measure in a time of fiscal crisis at the statehouses, states should instead emphasize spending on community corrections.

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overcrowding at Mule Creek State Prison (cdcr.ca.gov)
The study, 1 in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections, reported that one in every 31 Americans is in jail or prison or on probation or parole. That's more than 7 million people under state supervision, and that's more than double the rate 25 years ago. The report adds that the real figure may be closer to 8 million because the numbers don't include people under state supervision in pre-trial diversion programs, such as drug courts.

The rates of correctional control vary by race and geography. One in eleven black adults (9.2%) are enjoying the tender mercies of the state, compared to one in 27 Hispanics (3.7%) and one in 45 whites (2.2%). With one of every 13 adults behind bars or on probation or parole, Georgia has the highest percentage of its population under surveillance, followed by Idaho, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, and the District of Columbia.

"Violent and career criminals need to be locked up, and for a long time. But our research shows that prisons are housing too many people who can be managed safely and held accountable in the community at far lower cost," said Adam Gelb, director of the Center's Public Safety Performance Project, which produced the report.

But while prisons account for about 90% of the overall correction budget in the states, two-thirds of offenders are on probation or parole, not behind bars. Pressures to cut community corrections spending in the current crisis are penny wise but pound foolish, said the report.

"New community supervision strategies and technologies need to be strengthened and expanded, not scaled back," Gelb argued. "Cutting them may appear to save a few dollars, but it doesn't. It will fuel the cycle of more crime, more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions, and still more imprisonment."

The study recommended that states:

  • Sort offenders by risk to public safety to determine appropriate levels of supervision;
  • Base intervention programs on sound research about what works to reduce recidivism;
  • Harness advances in supervision technology such as electronic monitoring and rapid-result alcohol and drug tests;
  • Impose swift and certain sanctions for offenders who break the rules of their release but who do not commit new crimes; and
  • Create incentives for offenders and supervision agencies to succeed, and monitor their performance.

The report did not address the role of drug prohibition in swelling the nation's prison population, nor did it question whether drug offenders should be arrested in the first place, let alone placed under state surveillance or imprisoned.

Feature: Citing Startling Research on False Positive Drug Tests, Researchers Call for Moratorium on Field Drug Test Kit Testing

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from left: Ron Obadia, Nadine Artemis, John Kelly, Adam Eidinger, Rob Kampia, Omar Bagasra
The National Press Club in Washington, DC took on the aspect of a chemistry lab for a short while Tuesday afternoon as scientists and researchers sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project gave a startling demonstration of false positive drug test results obtained using some of the most widely used field testing kits employed by law enforcement to detect the presence of marijuana and other drugs.

As a lab-coated and rubber glove wearing researcher from the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology dumped a sample of oregano into a field test kit, Mintwood Media's Adam Eidinger produced a positive test result for cocaine with another kit simply by exposing it to the atmosphere. "This is just air," Eidinger said, opening up a test and waving it as the reagent turned orange, indicating a positive result. (See the YouTube video here.)

The testing done at the press conference replicated that done earlier by the researchers, who found that a surprisingly large number of common substances generated false positive results for the presence of drugs. "While testing the specificity of the KN Reagent test kits with 42 non-marijuana substances, I observed that 70% of these tests rendered a false positive," said Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the Center for Biotechnology, who conducted the experiments.

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field test generating false positive from mere air
""That's just outrageous," exclaimed Eidinger.

That research came as part of new report, False Positives Equal False Justice, by forensics expert John Kelly in collaboration with former FBI chief scientist and narcotics officer Dr. Frederick Whitehurst. In the report, the pair uncovered "a drug testing regime of fraudulent forensics used by police, prosecutors, and judges which abrogates every American's constitutional rights," as Kelly wrote in the executive summary.

"Law enforcement officials, forensic drug analysts, and prosecutors knowingly employ the flawed Duquenois-Levine and KN Reagent tests as well as mere conclusory police reports to wrongfully prosecute and convict millions of individuals for anti-marijuana law violations," Kelly wrote. "These wrongful prosecutions and convictions violate Supreme Court rulings which prohibit the use of inaccurate, nonspecific tests and/or conclusory reports because they do not prove the presence of marijuana in a seized substance. In other words, millions of people have been, and continue to be, prosecuted and convicted of marijuana charges without proof that they possessed marijuana."

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Dr. Bagasra testing the field test on chocolate
Both Kelly and MPP executive director Rob Kampia used the report's findings to call for a moratorium on the use of field drug testing kits. "It is imperative that law enforcement agencies take notice and voluntarily end the use of these flawed drug tests. The essential need of protecting the innocent must outweigh the convenience of a field drug test that only gives accurate information some of the time," wrote Kelly.

"In terms of policy recommendations, it's real simple, no one should be using these faulty field tests, they should be thrown out and the company that's making them should probably be put out of business," Kampia told the press conference. "Natural soap, chocolate and newspaper, among other household items, all will test positive for marijuana and other drugs such as GHB, yet these kits continue to be used in both arrests and prosecutions nationwide. In our society we have the principle that you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. These tests turn that on its head."

ODV, a subsidiary of Forensic Source, manufactures the NIK Narco Pouch 908 and 909 tested by the researchers. The company did not respond to requests for comment by day's end on Thursday. The tests' packaging warns that they can produce false positives, but does not mention that most of their positives are false.

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common items that generate false positives (Katie Schuler, bellvisuals.com)
False positive field drug tests can ruin your day. Ask Don Bolles, drummer for the punk band The Germs. He was arrested and jailed for three days in April 2007 because a field test said the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap he had with him tested positive for GHB. That field test was done with the NarcoPouch 928, another in the ODV line. Later testing revealed the 928 would generate false positives with a wide variety of natural soaps, as well as soy milk.

Bryn Mawr honor student Janet Lee was another victim of inaccurate field drug test kits. As she prepared to fly home for Christmas break in 2003, she was arrested at the Philadelphia airport after three condoms filled with flour (she said she squeezed them for stress relief) came up as cocaine on a cobalt thiocyanate (C-T) field test. She spent three weeks in jail facing charges that could net her 20 years in prison before an attorney demanded the drug be retested. Lee collected $180,000 from the city two years later to settle a lawsuit, but still suffered the Kafkaesque nightmare of being jailed.

Lee was lucky. A jail guard recognized her as a volunteer and beat the bushes for a good attorney. It is unknown how many others like her there are who, lacking such resources, either were found guilty or plea bargained to crimes of which they were innocent because of deceptive field drug tests.

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the fraudulent field test packets
Another widely publicized incident of bad field drug tests occurred in August, when Ron Obadia and Nadine Artemis were arrested, handcuffed to a chair, and interrogated for hours at the Toronto Airport after their raw chocolate tested positive for hashish with the Duquenois-Levine color chemical test. They were placed in separate rooms and were told that they faced "life in prison" unless they confessed. Each of them was also told that the other already had confessed.

Later lab testing proved it was indeed chocolate, not hash, and the pair were sent on their way. They also accumulated a $20,000 legal bill. To add insult to injury, when the couple tried again to fly to the US three weeks later with their raw chocolate, it again tested positive on the field test kit. This time, Obadia was arrested and charged with hash possession.

Medical Marijuana: Illinois Bill Advances With Favorable House Committee Vote

For the first time, a medical marijuana bill has won an Illinois House committee vote. The House Human Services Committee voted 4-3 Wednesday to send forward HB 2514, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

Under the bill, persons diagnosed by a physician as suffering a debilitating medical condition and their caretakers would be issued an ID card and placed on a registry run by the Department of Public Health. Each patient could possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana and seven plants. If enacted, the Illinois medical marijuana law would expire after three years and have to be reenacted.

A companion bill, SB 1381, is pending in the state Senate. It is sponsored by former state's attorney Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) and is scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday.

Wednesday's House committee vote came after public testimony from proponents and opponents of the bill. Medical marijuana patient Lucie MacFarlane, 46, of Joliet, told the panel she uses the herb to relieve the constant pain she suffers from neurofibromatosis and a surgery that left her spine fused.

"Doctors need every safe, effective medicine available to them when treating patients with serious conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Jay Riseman, a Springfield physician who testified before the committee. "I've seen medical marijuana work for patients when nothing else did, and I should be able to recommend it to my patients without leaving them vulnerable to arrest and even jail."

House bill sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was perhaps the bill's most ardent advocate. "People cannot get relief in any other place, except totally sedating and debilitating medication that makes them unable to cope with life," he said, pointing to MacFarlane and other patients. "Strong evidence shows that this is very significant help to them in their life, and I don't understand why anybody would be against this," Lang said.

But Lang understood all too well the opposition and blamed posturing politicians looking for any excuse to kill it. Addressing concerns raised by the California experience -- a much more wide open system than that envisioned in his bill -- Lang said the legislation is tightly drafted. "This is a very controlled bill. It doesn't allow anyone to have more than seven plants," Lang said. "Second, we have to be able to trust the medical community." He said there is little outcry when doctors prescribe massive amounts of morphine, Vicodin or codeine to alleviate pain. "It's only when you start talking about cannabis that people start talking about that, because they're looking for an excuse to be against the bill," he said.

Medical Marijuana: On the Move in Minnesota as Second Senate Committee Gives Okay

A bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Minnesota has cleared a second committee in the state Senate, with the Judiciary Committee approving it on a narrow 4-3 vote. A hearing on the companion House bill before the House Civil Justice Committee is expected shortly.

The bill, SF 97, would allow qualified patients or their caregivers to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants. People suffering from cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Hep C, or Tourette's Syndrome or a chronic or debilitating disease or its treatment that produces wasting syndrome, intractable pain, severe nausea, seizures, or spasms whose doctors approve of their use would qualify.

A previous version of the bill passed the Senate and every House committee vote during the 2007-2008 session, but died without a House floor vote. It faced the strong opposition of law enforcement and a veto threat from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty's position has not changed, but bill supporters are hoping it will.

"I am increasingly confident that this will be the year that Minnesota joins the 13 other states that have acted to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest," said bill sponsor Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing). "This is an issue where science, compassion and simple common sense come together."

Before voting, the Senate committee heard testimony from opponents and proponents of the bill. "Two puffs, two minutes, and the violent sickness was totally gone," said Kathy Rippentrop, who described her mother's use of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of cancer chemotherapy. "An hour later, Mom was able to have a good meal. The stomach problems from the chemo were totally gone. It also helped her regain a quality of life that allowed her to continue to fight."

And while some worried that allowing for the use of medical marijuana would make law enforcement's job more difficult, Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), whose husband died of colon cancer, was not one of them. "We're not talking about getting people hooked on drugs and then going out in the street and, you know, destroying their lives and passing it on to other people," said Prettner Solon. "We're talking about end of life issues -- a last resort for people's suffering."

Feature: New York Assembly Passes Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Bill -- Fight Moves to the Senate

The New York Assembly Wednesday passed a bill that would repeal much of the state's draconian Rockefeller drug laws. Enacted in 1973 under Gov. Nelson Rockefeller (R), the laws are some of the toughest in the nation and have served as a model for "tough on crime" legislation across the country in the years since then.

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June 2003 ''Countdown to Fairness'' rally against the Rockefeller drug laws, NYC (courtesy 15yearstolife.com)
By a vote of 96-46, the Assembly approved A 6085, which restores judges' discretion in sentencing low level drug offenders by gutting provisions in the law that require prosecutors to approve a judge's decision to divert someone from prison to drug treatment. The bill would also expand the state's drug court system by authorizing one for each county in the state. The bill contains provisions denying probation or local jail sentences to adults selling drugs to minors, dealers who deal while armed, and "drug kingpins."

Now, all eyes turn to the state Senate, where an identical bill has been introduced. Complicating matters is that the New York State Sentencing Commission last month released its own, much less reformist recommendations, which are supposed to be Gov. David Paterson's (D) guide to reform legislation. The governor is not bound by the commission majority's recommendations, but it is not clear yet just what Paterson will do.

Thanks to the Rockefeller laws -- and despite reforms in 2004 and 2005 that had no impact on less serious offenders imprisoned under them -- nearly 12,000 people are currently behind bars for drugs in New York. Even after the 2004-2005 tinkering, the state prison system continues to be flooded with new Rockefeller law victims. More than 5,000 people were sent to prison for nonviolent drug offenses last year.

More than 42% of Rockefeller law prisoners -- more than 5,000 people -- are doing hard time for simple drug possession, many of them convicted of the lowest level drug felonies, which involve only small amounts of drugs. For instance, a half-gram of cocaine can earn a Class D felony charge. As of last month, 1,098 people were imprisoned for that offense.

The mass imprisonment of drug offenders comes at a substantial cost to Empire State taxpayers. According to the Correctional Association of New York, the state spends $525 million a year to incarcerate drug offenders and has spent $1.5 billion on building prisons to house them.

"More than 35 years after the Rockefeller drug laws were enacted, it is clear that these laws mandating imprisonment for even lower-level offenders have failed to effectively combat drug abuse or reduce the incidence of violent crime," said Assembly leader Rep. Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) before the vote Wednesday. "This legislation restores humanity to drug policy here in New York. It expands the sentencing options available to judges, without endangering the public. Judges are in the best position to know who is deserving of prison and who is not. State prison and mandatory prison sentences are not the magic bullets to address drug abuse and its attendant problems; restoring judicial discretion is the solution."

"These reforms are long overdue," said Rep. Jeffrion Aubrey (D-Queens), the primary sponsor of the bill. "This legislation provides for a more sensible, comprehensive and cost-effective approach for dealing with lower-level drug offenders and addicts. Think of all the resources that have been spent on locking-up nonviolent drug offenders that could have been invested in the education, rehabilitation and job training that can save lives. Treatment programs in New York City have a ten percent recidivism rate for participants one year after completion, compared to 60 to 70% for those not in programs. Treatment works."

Activists who have spent years trying to make the legislature pay heed to calls for Rockefeller law reform -- or outright repeal -- pronounced themselves pleased with the Assembly vote. But while there was agreement that the bill contained significant reforms, some said it did not go far enough.

"With everyone from the Sentencing Commission to the governor talking about reforming the Rockefeller drug laws, it's critical to examine any proposal and make sure it constitutes real reform," said Gabriel Sayegh, project director with the Drug Policy Alliance. "To be real, meaningful reform, any proposal must include restoration of judicial discretion in drug cases; expansion of alternative-to-incarceration programs and community based drug treatment; fair and equitable sentencing reforms; and retroactive sentencing relief for people serving unjust sentences under the Rockefeller drug laws. The Assembly has included these provisions, and their proposal constitutes real reform."

"New York State is closer to justice today than we were yesterday," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "By passing this bill, our state's Assembly is letting go of 36 years of failure and moving toward meaningful reform of the Rockefeller drug laws."

"The Rockefeller drug laws have failed by every measure -- cost, drug use, public safety," added the group's legislative director, Robert Perry. "With the passage of Jeff Aubrey's bill, the Assembly has acted on Governor Paterson's directive to fundamentally reform the state's failed drug policy. The bill shifts the paradigm, away from mass incarceration and toward a public health model."

But the NYCLU also said that "in certain essential respects, the Assembly proposal does not fully realize the reform principles on which the legislation is based." It listed several examples:

  • The bill leaves in place a sentencing scheme that permits unreasonably harsh maximum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses;
  • The bill disqualifies from eligibility for treatment and rehabilitation individuals who may be most in need of such programs; and
  • The bill creates an unnecessarily burdensome procedure for sealing a criminal record after someone has completed a substance abuse program.

"This is an essential first step, but we encourage Governor Paterson and the state Senate to authorize judicial discretion to divert individuals from prison in all appropriate cases; to expand and improve the quality of alternative to incarceration programs; and to provide long-sought justice to the thousands of families that have been torn apart by the Rockefeller drug laws," Lieberman said.

Randy Credico of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, which has been part of the Rockefeller reform movement for years, offered a more radical critique. "It's not just the Rockefeller drug laws -- we need to completely overhaul the criminal justice system, from sentencing to the appointment of judges to judge-shopping by prosecutors to racial profiling to banning stop and frisk searches. People need to focus on the overall criminal justice system, or just as many people will be going to prison as we have now," he told the Chronicle last month.

But right now, the focus is on getting Rockefeller reform legislation to the governor's desk. DPA's Sayegh said there were good signs in the Senate. "The Senate bill introduced by Sen. Eric Schneiderman (D-Bronx) is the same bill as was introduced in the Assembly," he pointed out. "We're very hopeful about that."

But Sayegh worried about what Gov. Paterson will propose. "The governor has apparently distributed a proposal to legislative leaders that has not been made public," he said. "We hope it is not a cut and paste from the Sentencing Commission, given that its recommendations do not constitute real reform."

Still, Sayegh predicted fast action in Albany. "This is moving along quickly. We think we may see a negotiated Senate bill within a week or two," he said. "Given the fiscal crisis we're facing, these reforms will save the state millions and millions of dollars. The time is right."

If and when substantial repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws is passed, then perhaps people will start asking why and whether drug users and sellers should be arrested in the first place absent harm to others. Drug treatment and drug courts may be an improvement over years in prison, but in a society that treated its citizens as adults, such authoritarian institutions would be reserved for people who have demonstrated their drug use is harming others.

Salvia Divinorum: Possession -- But Not Sale -- Now Banned in South Dakota

South Dakota has become the latest state to ban salvia divinorum, the hallucinogenic plant used for centuries by Mexican shamans whose recreational use has become noticeable in the US in recent years. Oddly enough, as the bill was amended in back and forth between the state House and Senate, legislators forgot to specifically make it a crime to distribute the herb.

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Google ads for salvia on web page reporting salvia arrest
The bill does not go into effect until it is signed by Gov. Michael Rounds (R), who has indicated he will sign it. Once he does, the salvia ban goes into effect immediately because the bill declared an "emergency" regarding use of the fast-acting, short-duration psychedelic.

The bill creates two salvia possession offenses -- a misdemeanor for possession of less than two ounces of the plant or its active substance, Salvinorin A, and a felony for possession of more than two ounces. A misdemeanor charge can earn you up to a year in jail, while the Class 6 felony would be worth up to two years in the state penitentiary.

Rep. Lance Russell (R-Hot Springs) urged the House to reject the Senate version of the bill because it did not specifically outlaw distribution of salvia. But other lawmakers, eager to move ahead, said banning possession was a good enough start.

As the Chronicle noted last week, South Dakota is only the latest state to fall prey to salvia mania. Nebraska banned it a week ago, and similar measures are before legislatures in Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.

Thirteen states -- Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Virginia -- have classified salvia as Schedule I under state drug laws. Make that 14 now that South Dakota has joined the list. Three more -- Louisiana, Maine, and Tennessee -- restrict the sale of the plant. Maine and California ban it only for minors.

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