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

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #575)
Drug War Issues

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.

[inline:salvia-ads.jpg align=right caption="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.

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)

I'm just waiting for something as funny to come out of all this as the cop calling 911 and telling them he's dying after eating pot brownies with his girlfriend......

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 2:30am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, that was a real feel good story. The medication disposal service was a good one this week, but just not the side splitting laugh of the Cop calling 911 after eating space cake.

Sat, 03/07/2009 - 10:06am Permalink
Harry (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

At least the law makes it no more than a misdemeanor offense for less than two oz.  From what I've read, and who knows how accurate the "facts" are, alcoholism touches the lives of 8 out of 10 American Indian families living on the reservation in South Dakota. Perhaps if American Indians were smoking a little salvia while sitting out in nature every so often there would be less of a problem with alcohol as salvia isn't really a negative escape the way alcohol is.

Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:34pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Most states have a version of the Controlled Substances Act which likely has provisions for adding substances to the Schedules without having to involve the Legislature spending time drafting and debating bills that would add a substance to the schedules. It seems that the only reason for the Legislatures taking up this "fight" is for political posturing and because under the definitions of the Schedules and the requirements for classification Salvia would not meat the standards and not be subject to control.

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 11:49am Permalink
Blackhorse 70V (not verified)

At least when LSD was at issue, there were (false) reports about medical problems that could result from its use. With Salvia, the reposts so far seem to focus on what's been shown on YouTube, etc.

As a volunteer EMT, I have yet to see a Salvia-related emergency (though I suspect there are a few). As a Substance Abuse Counselor, I have seen as many people with Salvia problems as I have seen with LSD problems; not a single case in thirty years of practice.

Many of my colleagues believe that Salvia, like LSD may hold therapeutic benefit for certain clients. I believe that Salvia, because of its shorter-acting effects, may be more appropriate in these cases, and may benefit a greater number. But when it comes to making drug laws, when has the government ever listened to a majority of physicians or counselors?

Too bad that we can't get high from smoking banana skins (as was hyped in the '60s). Perhaps we could start claiming that we get high from parsley. We can post parsley parties on FaceBook. If we get injured, we can blame it on parsley. Late for work?- parsley! In six months we could see it go to Schedule 1.

Sat, 03/07/2009 - 3:37am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Blackhorse 70V (not verified)

thanks for your comments and insight blackhorse.

as an older guy who found x in 1980, back when it was legal, really mellow, and not laced with acid, i have found this to be the closest thing to bringing about a calmness and sense of beauty that i have seen in 25 years.
chill by the pool with music....

prhaps it should be shared with those w/ drinking issues, as it certainly bets getting drunk, and you have NO DESIRE to drink to get away from stress, or for whatever reason people like to drink...

God's Peace

Tue, 05/12/2009 - 3:32pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It is just a shame that products like alcohol and smoke-tobacco are legal, despite strong evidence of grave problems related with their consumption, and that, at the same time, products like Cannabis, and now in some places, Salvia Divinorum are illegal, despite there are no evidences at all that there is any problem related to their uses. Sure, in concentrated form Salvia can lead you to an impressive altered state of consciousness, ... like sleep. Impressive does not mean dangerous. On youtube you can see that people who are using it in the worst conditions, suffer only, in the worst case, of nightmare and some bruises. This happens to sober people all the time. We should invent a law against defamation about health related products, because such defamation are far more dangerous than the incriminated products. Cannabis and Salvia becomes rather dangerous indeed because it can send you to jail, despite nobody ever complained.
Banning salvia would create problems where there are none. Regulation? Sure, together with information and education. Criminalization without complains? That is a parody of politics. Shame! shame! shame!

Sun, 03/08/2009 - 3:11pm Permalink

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