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Salvia Divinorum: Nebraska Shopkeeper to Go on Trial For Selling "Intoxicants" in Magic Mint Case

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #552)
Drug War Issues

Sometimes no publicity is good publicity, but it's too late for that for Lincoln, Nebraska shop-owner Christian Firoz. Firoz runs Exotica, a Lincoln boutique, and back in March, as the Nebraska legislature was pondering legislation that would ban salvia (it died without a vote), Firoz was quoted in a March Lincoln Journal-Star article about an up-tick in interest in the fast-acting, short-lived hallucinogen after the ban effort received local news coverage.

salvia leaves
That resulted in a visit from undercover officers from the Lincoln police, who purchased salvia at the shop, then returned with arrest and search warrants. Firoz was charged not with selling salvia, but with violating a state law against selling substances "which will induce an intoxicated condition ...when the seller, offerer or deliverer knows or has reason to know that such compound is intended for use to induce such condition."

That prompted Firoz' attorney, Susan Kirchmann, to seek dismissal of the charges, arguing that the law is so vague ordinary people can't understand what is prohibited and must guess at its meaning. But the state countered that Firoz was not selling cleaning chemicals with no idea they were to be used to get high. Instead, he was knowingly selling salvia his purchasers would use to become intoxicated, they argued.

Last week, Lancaster County Judge Gale Pokorny sided with the prosecution. In a September 10 order, Pokorny ruled that Firoz must stand trial because he knew what he was selling.

"This judge is of the opinion that Mr. Christian Firoz knew precisely that the Salvia Divinorum he was selling was a 'substance' his purchasers were buying intended for human ingestion for the sole purpose of achieving mind altering intoxication," Pokorny wrote.

"While there may be others who potentially might be caught up in some confusing terminology contained in these two statutes, Mr. Christian Firoz does not appear to be one of them."

Firoz will go on trial for unlawfully selling a legal substance next month. He faces up to three months in jail and a $500 fine. Meanwhile, the first prosecution of anyone on salvia charges anywhere in the United States is set for next week in Bismarck, North Dakota, where at last word, Kenneth Rau was set to go to trial Monday on felony salvia possession charges.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Do they charge bar owners in Nebraska for selling jager bombs and beer? The intent of the 22 year old college student at a bar on Friday is to get drunk or put different 'to buy substances that will induce an intoxicated condition.' Similarly the bar owner is selling these substances with the knowledge that they will likely be ingested for the purposes of inducing an intoxicated condition.

This is ridiculous.

Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:27pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I was going to add my 2 cents but Shame and anon both hit it squarely on the head. Well said both of you! This ridiculous war on drugs is just that, ridiculous.

Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:49pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Go bust a meth lab you cop pussies.

Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:58pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

YES! I agree, exactly! They should spend their time catching real sex offenders who still can roam on campus playgrounds with hardly any "Collateral Consequences" like these so BAD and VIOLENT drug dealers can!

Mon, 09/22/2008 - 12:59pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

If you google "christian firoz" the first page up should be
his florida sex offender registry.
He has quite a reputation in Lincoln, but the stories say
he's more for the high school girls. This guy pisses me off
when he hides behind the drug war and tries to act like he's
a hero. Yeah, and he probably would sell to minors, as well as
drug their drinks.

Mon, 10/13/2008 - 9:56am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm totally for leaving Salvia legal as a cognitive liberty issue, but Mr. Firoz is obviously just in it for the money. Why else would he say he thinks it should now be illegal because the law is too "confusing"? Here's the college paper article quoting him:

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 4:51pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Section 28-421 of Nebraska law specifically exempts alcohol from the statutes that Firoz is being charged with.

I know, I know!

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 11:32am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Seriously... where did it go? and who are these fascist folks pretending that they have authority to regulate every facet of human existence including what you choose to put into your own body?

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 11:52am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Except the bar tender has a very expensive license to sell alcohol as an intoxicant. ARGH!

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 2:13pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The law in Nebraska says it bans the sale of any substance that a person intends to use to get "intoxicated" (with alcohol specifically exempted).
It looks like it's an early drug war "catch all". As best I can tell, no one has EVER been prosecuted in Nebraska under this law.
The part that gets me the most? The local police department read the newspaper article, then researched their best to come up with a crime they could charge my client with because they "KNEW" there had to be something illegal about it. I find that part chilling.

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 2:52pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The Nebraska legislative crime needs to be prosecuted as racketeering- criminal mercantilism for protecting alcohol.

The judge needs to go to prison, along with much of the judiciary for tolerating these unconstitutional statutes.

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 4:01pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

That's awesome!! Throw his ass in jail. He knew exactly what he was selling and what it was for. Don't try to insult everyone's, including the legal system's, intelligence by pretending not to know what salvia is for. IT IS USED TO GET HIGH, plain and simple. He was probably one of the jokers who sell salvia under the guise of "incense". Yeah, right, we're all believing that one.
Good going Nebraska coppers!

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 4:52pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You are an uninformed idiot. Go watch more CNBC...TV never lies. tool

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 7:38pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

"While there may be others who potentially might be caught up in some confusing terminology contained in these two statutes, Mr. Christian Firoz does not appear to be one of them."

The judge is intentionally misinterpreting the argument the defense is making. Christian Firoz knew that the salvia was being used for intoxication. He was not confused about that. However, what Firoz's attourney was claiming was that people are confused about the law.

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 4:58pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The judge order reads like this:

"The case law from both the United States and Nebraska Supreme Court clearly supports defendant's assertion that certain criminal statutes can be "void for vagueness". But the Nebraska Supreme Court has qualified who may assert such a claim --- who has the "standing" to assert such a claim ---by repeatedly setting forth that a person who wishes to challenge a statute as "void for vagueness" must not engage in conduct clearly prohibited by the questioned statute."

Who the hell would challenge a statute other than a person being prosecuted for it? If a person is not allowed to challenge a statute because they are guilty, then that goes against the principle of "innocent until proven guilty".

Is the Nebraska Supreme Court being constitutional in qualifying who may challenge a statute and who may not?

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 6:00pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Coffee is imbibed to get high, particularly espresso.

Coffeeshop owners know this.

It is not specifically allowed either, according to Nebraska state law ... no different from Salvia.

Should we fear for our Nebraska Starbucks next?

I am all for freedom of choice. Repeal these ignorant laws!

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 6:39pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Were I this man's laywer, I'd respond to this by immediately filing charges against all the pharmacys, resteraunts, grocery stores and bars in the state. In fact, if Frioz is convicted, it would provide precedent to push those charges through and either expose the major flaw in the law, or turn the whole state's judicial system into a circus.

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 7:43pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Intoxicated definition:

1. To stupefy or excite by the action of a chemical substance such as alcohol.
2. To stimulate or excite: "a man whom life intoxicates, who has no need of wine" Anaïs Nin.
3. To poison.

Salvia is none of the above, therefore not an intoxicant. It is also in no way recreational. It is an aid to meditation and spiritual exploration.

As stated above however, substances such as caffeine, kava, tobacco, diet pills are likely illegal by definition as intoxicants.

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:17pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Get Salvia Here.. Its the Best!!!

Fri, 01/09/2009 - 4:02pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Just so you know, Mr. Firoz was acquitted by a jury today.
While it may be a victory for him, I would imagine that it will be used to spur the legislature to criminalize salvia this year.

Mon, 01/26/2009 - 9:29pm Permalink

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