Feature: At the Statehouse -- Salvia Banned in Four More States This Year

Hysteria over salvia divinorum, the fast-acting, short-lived psychedelic member of the mint family, continued in state legislatures this year. Although after five years, the DEA has not found a reason to add salvia to the federal list of controlled substances, that hasn't stopped state legislators from trying. This year, four more states joined the list of those that have criminalized it, while bills to do the same were introduced in seven others.

salvia leaves (photo courtesy Erowid.org)
Next week, we will conclude our review of drug policy-related issues in state legislatures with a look at sentencing reform, drug testing, meth-related measures, and some odds and ends.

Salvia Bills That Passed

Nebraska: Salvia Divinorum became a Schedule I controlled substance in February, after LB 123 passed the unicameral legislature on a 44-0 vote that same month. The governor quickly signed the bill.

North Carolina: A bill to prohibit the use, possession, sale, or manufacture of Salvia Divinorum, SB 138, passed the House on a 45-0 vote in May and the Senate on a 96-15 vote in August. It was signed into law that same month and went into effect December 1.

Ohio: Salvia Divinorum became a Schedule I controlled substance in April, 90 days after Gov. Ted Strickland (D) signed a bill banning the plant that passed the legislature late last year.

South Dakota: Possession of less than six ounces of salvia divinorum became a misdemeanor and possession of more became a felony after HB 1090 passed the House 67-2 and the Senate 34-0 in February. Gov. Mike Round (R) signed the "emergency" legislation in March, and it went into effect immediately. Curiously, the bill does not criminalize salvia sales.

Salvia Bills That Did Not or Have Not Passed

Alabama: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 475, was introduced in February. It was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, where it has been sitting since May.

Kentucky: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 228, passed the House on a 99-0 vote in February and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where no action has since occurred.

Maryland: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 8, died in March after being reported unfavorably out of the House Judiciary Committee. A companion bill, SB 9, died without any action being taken.

Michigan: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, HB 4849, was introduced in April, referred to the Committee on Health Policy and promptly went nowhere. Its companion measure, SB 570, met a similar fate.

New Jersey: SB 2436 and its companion measure, AB 1323, would make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance. Both were both introduced at the end of 2008 for the 2009-2010 legislative session, and neither has gone anywhere.

Pennsylvania: A bill to make Salvia Divinorum a Schedule I controlled substance, SB 769, was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in April. It hasn't moved since. A companion measure, HB 2037, was introduced in October and sits before the House Judiciary Committee.

Texas: A bill that would make it a crime to provide Salvia Divinorum to minors, SB 257, was introduced last November. It was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 30-1 vote in April. In the House, the bill was approved by the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in May, and has done nothing since. Another bill, HB 126, which would make Salvia a controlled substance in Penalty Group III (along with LSD and pentobarbital, among others), was introduced last November, referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in February, and allowed to die there in March.

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still a long way to go

Reading articles like this just make me realize that we still have a long way to go in ending the drug war as a whole. I hope the legalization of marijuana will be the "gateway" to getting the drug war stripped and regulating each drug, or a plant that contains a drug, with common sense.

The hysteria of Salvai Divinorum is hilariously dumb, propagated by the media overreacting to YouTube videos.

I hope all drugs will get the regulation each one deserves.


Does anyone even know what is salvia. There are many plants that are called by that name. In Colorado we had it as a flower in our yard, in the desert in NM there are several small shrubs they call salvia.
The better defintely define what it is before passing laws.

Just doing the math here

Salvia divinorum (one of several dozen species of Salvia) was accused of contributing to the suicide death of one (1) young man in Delaware. Meanwhile Nicotiana tabacum, in the form of hot-burning overdose carbon monoxide $igarettes, kills 440,000 Americans every year.

Notice the especially harsh SB-138 in the great state of Narcolina, home of Big 2Wackgo.

Banning natural plants

This continues the absurdity of banning plants. With intelligence like this in our leadership, I fear for our country. The poet e.e. cummings describes this thinking best:
"When serpents bargain for the right to squirm
and the sun strikes to gain a living wage...

Following this kind of thinking, legislators should ban gravity - to keep people from falling off cliffs...

Lose the salvia

There have now been several deaths linked to salvia d, not just one. No way should this stuff be legal. Get rid of it now

lose salvia?

Get a grip!

This idea of things that cause death should be illegal is overrated.

Many things we all commonly accept into our daily lives from all ages have a very real potential of causing death.

Cheese - linked to high cholesterol causing more deaths then cigarettes, as many other foods could be.

Water - when continuously drank with out reserve can cause hyper hydration and can cause death.

Now, the idea is not to outlaw these things. WHY? Because as much as one person may disagree with another's choice to do to them-self, even cause death, it is a personal choice (THEIR BODY). And, as odd as it may seem to be, a "pursuit of happiness" (a pursuit, look it up).

Education... You may inform them of consequences of there action...

But to suggest you are going to help them by taking that right away, fining them, imprison them, and so on is impostures and down right arrogant.

borden's picture

I don't think there have

I don't think there have been any deaths convincingly linked to salvia, actually. In the Delaware case, the young person who committed suicide had been taking a prescription medicine that is known to cause depression in some patients.

Show us the info if you have it.

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

European plants are legal but American plants are taboo

I've noticed that Native American drugs all seem to find their way to schedule 1 : the schedule which says, "This drug has no medical or other useful value." It is a kinda European colonial culture rejection of Native America. The drug war itself began when Democrats invented the marijuana tax laws to ban Mexican migrant workers from smoking dope. The American plant drugs tend to bring religious awareness and tend to be harmless. Ironically, all of the Old European potion drugs are deadly poisonous and remain unscheduled. For instance henbane, mandrake, daturas, and fly agaric mushrooms, are all legal and unrestricted. Every one of these plants are hallucinogens that have very low lethal doses. Alcohol is of course another deadly Euro import. Psilocybin mushrooms: harmless but schedule 1 useless; Amanita Muscaria: deadly but unscheduled. Salvia Divinorum: another American herbal psychedelic prejudiced for schedule 1 uselessness.


Assembly Bill 186, criminalizing manufacture and distribution, but not possession, has already cleared the Assembly. Senate passage is likely. Currently awaiting scheduling of a hearing before Committee on Public Health, Senior Issues, Long-Term Care, and Job Creation

The real Salvia Trip

Like many people, I've tried smoking salvia divinorum to no effect. The people that really get the full trip use the distilled version, the so-called, 5x Salvia. I saw it in the Netherlands and talked to people who ingested it. They said that it is very potent indeed. Despite living in California, where it's legal for the time being, I never went to a head shop to get the stuff. I guess getting that whacked didn't appeal to me at that point in time.

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