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Salvia Divinorum: Nebraska Man is Acquitted of Sales Charge, But the Plant is Under Continued Attack There and Elsewhere

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #570)
Drug War Issues

A jury in Lincoln, Nebraska, found a local man not guilty of selling salvia divinorum Monday. Although the psychedelic member of the mint family is not a controlled substance in Nebraska, creative thinkers in the Lincoln Police Department arrested shop owner Christian Firoz under a little used law against selling a substance for the purpose of inducing intoxication.

salvia leaves (photo courtesy
Police seized about eight ounces of salvia in a raid after an undercover agent purchased some there. Firoz admitted selling the herb, which produces a powerful but short-lived hallucinogenic effect. But his lawyer argued that the state had failed to show it was a dangerous narcotic, and the jury agreed.

By this time next year, though, police anywhere in Nebraska may be able to arrest people on salvia possession or sales charges. The day after Firoz was acquitted, the Nebraska legislature voted 44-0 to advance a bill, LB 123, making salvia a Schedule I controlled substance. Under the bill, salvia would be classified along with heroin, LSD, and marijuana as substances with no medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Salvia is not known to produce fatal overdoses, nor has it been shown to be addictive. In fact, for most users, the high is so overwhelming that they only use it once or twice. Salvia use has been linked -- but only indirectly -- to two deaths, that of a Delaware teenager who killed himself some time after using salvia and that of an Ohio teenager who was slain by a friend who had previously used salvia, but was not under the immediate influence.

But that didn't stop the Nebraska bill's sponsor, Sen. Russ Karpisek (R-Wilbur) from declaring that the legislature had to save Nebraska's corn-fed youth by sending them to prison for possessing a plant. "Please, think about our children when you think about this one. It's another gateway drug. I think that it will entice people to use the drug and see what it's like. Scary thought to me," said Karpisek.

Nebraska isn't alone in seeing efforts to ban salvia this year. Also on Tuesday, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 8, which would make salvia a Schedule I controlled substance in the Terrapin state. A similar bill has been filed in the state Senate. South Dakota legislators filed a bill, HB 1090 last week that would do the same, and declares the salvia threat so dire as to require emergency status, meaning the bill, if passed, would go into effect in 90 days. A Texas legislator has filed another salvia ban bill, HB 126, while another Texas bill, SB 257, would restrict its sale to minors.

That's what California did last year, although most of the dozen or so states that have moved against salvia have simply banned it for everyone. California's example is the correct response, said the Drug Policy Alliance Network's DC and Maryland office.

"We are very concerned about youth drug use, including the use of salvia, but by outlawing and prohibiting it legislators will make the problem even worse," said Naomi Long, DPAN's DC and Maryland Project director. "We can curb youth access to salvia by enacting age controls and placement restrictions similar to our strategies to reduce teenage smoking. We didn't have to criminalize tobacco or create prison sentences to achieve success. Criminalizing drugs makes it easier for young people to obtain them because the underground market doesn't check an ID to see if someone's an adult."

For salvia fans and civil libertarians, the one good sign in all this is that opposition is starting to appear. Not only did foes of criminalizing salvia make an appearance in Annapolis, they also objected in Lincoln. Opposition hasn't stopped any salvia bans yet, but at least it is finally showing up.

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.


mlang52 (not verified)

I agree with the last assessment of the situation, by Naomi Long. In addition to that, making it illegal makes it next to impossible to evaluate it, through MEDICAL SCIENCE, for any use of such a drug for psychiatric problems. Again, our representatives reveal the total ignorance, of the voting public, on one side and their biases,on the other!

Fri, 01/30/2009 - 2:53pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

i did saliva no harm done it would not make you kill your self or anyone else and no one would be able to kill anything while on it anyways you can hardly talk or walk let alone kill someone

Fri, 01/30/2009 - 5:59pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Please learn about drug research before posting idiotic posts like the first one. ALL drug laws passed in the US ALLOW for those same drugs to be used by researchers/scientists w/ the correct credentials for strictly research purposes. Do they allow numbskulls to go out and smoke this stuff and then injure themselves or others? Hopefully not, and that's why salvia laws are being passed in more and more states. It will be regulated across the country at some point and the smokers/tokers better get used to the idea.

Sat, 01/31/2009 - 5:38pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe you should check the facts before going on an idiotic uninformed rampage about something you know little about. It is dopes like you who support the war on consciousness who are responsible for so much human suffering...not conscious expanding drugs that have the potential for enlightenment.

"ALL drug laws passed in the US ALLOW for those same drugs to be used by researchers/scientists w/ the correct credentials for strictly research purposes."

"Do they allow numbskulls to go out and smoke this stuff and then injure themselves or others"

Your ignorance on this subject is an object lesson in the danger of stupidity. There are many drugs that are illegal that NEVER get tested by researchers. And even when they do get to that stage, often the results are skewed. I challenge you to reference your ridiculous assertion. I doubt that you have ever tried to think outside the little box you call a brain. If you are afraid or just plain ignorant about something...DON'T EXPERIMENT with it!

If you don't like what's on TV, turn it off, and the next time you have an unrestrained control issue...Go Phuk yourself, maybe that will relieve your temporary insanity. It's my brain goddamn it and I will do whatever I want with it. And I don't need your approval. Got it? Jeezus phukking christ, some people.....

Sun, 02/01/2009 - 12:54am Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I venture to say I have much more education than you. I do not resort to name calling when I write my posts, as well. If you were right about the drugs getting researched, then cannabis would be easily available for medical research. Which it is not. There is plenty of information on the web to back up the fact, that what I said is true.

I agree that kids should not be abusing anything, including alcohol. We need alcohol prohibition again!! Is there proof to your statement that kids are injuring others or themselves? But, I must reiterate. They should not be smoking salvia, either!

Do you keep your liquor cabinet locked? I would if I had one and had kids in the house, any more.

Sun, 02/01/2009 - 3:55pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm not sure if it really makes sense for drug reformers to push for age restrictions. I'm seventeen, and I am pretty confident that I am as able to make rational choices as many adults. Of course minors are less rational on average, but there are inequalities in decision-making ability among everyone. This doesn't mean that the more irrational adults aren't held responsible for their actions. By limiting sales to minors, the law punishes another person for my stupid choice.

Sun, 02/01/2009 - 1:28pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The problem, with researching (human research) the harm of the salvia use in minors, is that it would be unethical. If I wanted to see if it damaged the body, (as it is shown that alcohol damages childrens' young livers much worse, than adults). Then it would be very wrong to let minors consume it! So, the best idea would be to limit its consumption to adults (anybody over 18 in most states), who are allowed to take risky behavior.

Kids need to stay drug free, until they have at lest completed rudimentary education and developmental skills. That is just safest for you! But, you should not be afraid of going to prison, or losing college aid, because of such mistakes. That is exactly what restrictive laws like this do. Ruin the lives of children and families over a personal choice! If you were my kid, I would kick your butt and explain the stupidity of using. But, I sure as heck would fight to the death to make sure you did not get imprisoned or your life ruined from such behavior. Just think what would have happened if Mr Obama had been busted! That is not what our government should be doing!

Sun, 02/01/2009 - 4:12pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by mlang52 (not verified)

"If I wanted to see if it damaged the body, (as it is shown that alcohol damages childrens' young livers much worse, than adults). Then it would be very wrong to let minors consume it!"

Ending prohibition means that people are allowed to sell harmful substances to others. So the fact that a substance is more harmful for a minor than an adult isn't a good reason for an anti-prohibitionist to ban sales to minors. I agree that it is preferable for kids to stay drug free, but it's not the government's job to bust store owners who sell to minors. I think it is the responsibility of parents to look after their children

Mon, 02/02/2009 - 3:11am Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

To address your first statement, harmful substances are sold , every day, to people. Alcohol is likely the most harmful drug of all! So, if a child does not have the education or wisdom to not use alcohol, he should be able to get it anyway? It just sounds very uncaring about the welfare of children. I guess that would be the mantra of the NAMBLA people! Sex with children is OK! It does not matter how severely they they are harmed. They can make the decisions on their own! Want your five year old to have "uncle Dick", legally, molest him? It just makes no more sense to think that allowing children to freely use drugs is, in any way, beneficial to society.

And if a drug a warrior picks up on your approach, you can be there will be a big expose'. "This guy wants to let kids have drugs!!" I like the way it is with alcohol. At least you don't get thrown in jail for adult consumption And, it does keep it out of the hands of children, most of the time. Kids don't have the judgment, that is supposed to be attained after reaching the age of 18. Granted that is an arbitrary number.

I just don't think that trying to say kids should not be prohibited from using drugs either, is really going to fly, even with adults that use drugs. It also, would only make it easier for the drug warriors to point out that if adults could not have a responsible attitude about drug use, in children, then it would be stupid to allow the legalization of anything that causes, even adults, to be so irresponsible and stupid. So, you want your kids to use drugs before they are 18? Start maybe when they are twelve, or six, or five, or three?

Mon, 02/02/2009 - 1:23pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It seems to me that were generally missing the point here. First of all, the assertion that Salvia is dangerous based on the fact that two kids died while having recently done the drug is ridiculous. Coming from somebody who's done it, I can tell you its not a violence inducing drug. However it is pretty clear to me that there has been no long term research to show any definitive results about salvia, good or bad. Having seen many people do it, I can tell you its typically a one time experimental drug that most people won't repeat and definitely won't become addicted too. It costs nearly 15 dollars a time anyways, much more expensive than marijuana or alcohol. It is not a social problem, and definitely does not warrant the knee-jerk reaction seen in some states.

Furthermore, how can the argument that a drug is dangerous really still hold any validity. Alcohol kills 100,000 Americans a year!! Yes there is a safe way to drink, but there is also a safe way to do any drugs! We need to stop acting so fearful as a society. What you do in the privacy of your own home should be up to you, not up to bureaucrats. Also, its not like the war on drugs has had any legitimate degree of success. At my average suburban high school, it was far easier to obtain marijuana and painkillers than it was to get an 18 pack. All we are doing is stuffing the pockets of criminals, and while some drug dealers are good people with moral character, too often we are only benefitting a violent culture that spills into the lives of honest Americans. I think drugs, at least non addictive drugs (ie marijuana, psychedelics), should be legalized by the government for use in ones own home not because they aren't dangerous, but because there continued illegal status is more dangerous to the general American public.

Tue, 02/03/2009 - 4:51pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Even if the last 5000 misbehaviors were done by people having taken product X (be it water, milk, or salvia divinorum), that would prove just NOTHING about the danger of the product X.
The correct statistical analysis has to be done the other way round. You have to consider the population consuming X, and see if, among them, they are more misbehaviors.
When the correct statistics is done with product like cannabis or salvia, the evidences are that those products are MUCH less dangerous than most product available on the market, be it chocolate, bikes, or even apples (due to insecticide), not talking about tobacco and alcohol..
There is, today, just ZERO reason to ban salvia divinorum.
Sure, concentrate form of salvia can send you in a deep trance state, and this can be impressive if you have never seen someone in trance. But impressive does not mean dangerous. On the youtube videos you can observe people taking salvia in the worth conditions. All what happens are no more than bruises and nightmares, which happens many times with sober people too.
Sure we should not encourage children to abuse of such products. But that is really what will happen if you make salvia illegal. People who care about their children should realize that al what is needed is information, education, and some amount of regulation.
Criminalization of salvia would create a problem when there are none.
If someone believes salvia is dangerous, given what we know today, it has to go back at school and learn logic. That's all.

Sat, 02/07/2009 - 9:26pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

only some drugs should be a legal not all just da 1's dat really fk u up

Mon, 04/27/2009 - 11:36am Permalink

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