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Latin America: Mexican Decriminalization Bill Now Law of the Land

A bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use in Mexico is now the law of the land, although it will not go into effect for one year to give states time to adjust their laws. It was published Thursday in the Official Daily of the Federation, the Mexican equivalent of the Federal Register. (To read the complete text of the bill in Spanish, go to page 83 of the Official Daily.

According to the new law, the amounts of various drugs decriminalized for personal use are:

  • opium -- 2 grams
  • cocaine -- 1/2 gram
  • heroin -- 1/10 gram
  • marijuana -- 5 grams
  • LSD -- 150 micrograms
  • methamphetamine -- 1/5 gram
  • ecstasy -- 1/5 gram
''Global Marijuana Day'' demonstration in Mexico City, May 2008
The decriminalization measure is part of a broader bill aimed at reducing "narcomenudeo," or retail drug sales. The bill would allow states and localities to prosecute small-time drug dealing offenses, a power that currently resides only with the federal government. It also allows police to make drug buys to build cases, a break with precedent in Mexico.

Whether the overall bill is a step forward or a step back is open to debate. Read our earlier discussion of the bill here.

Salvia Divinorum: North Carolina Latest State to Ban or Regulate Sally D

The Tarheel State is about to become the latest to ban salvia divinorum, the potent but fast-acting hallucinogen that has become increasingly popular among young drug experimenters in recent years. A bill that would do that, SB 138, now sits on the desk of Gov. Beverly Perdue, who is expected to sign it. Last week, the House approved the measure by a vote of 94-15. It earlier passed the Senate on a unanimous 45-0 vote.
salvia leaves (photo courtesy
The bill makes possession of salvia an infraction, a minor crime punishable by a maximum $25 fine. A third possession offense would be charged as a misdemeanor. The bill has no separate provisions for charging manufacturing or sales offenses.

The bill includes two exemptions. The first is for ornamental gardening; the second is for university-affiliated researchers.

North Carolina will join 14 other states and a handful of towns and cities that have banned or regulated salvia in recent years, the most recent being the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland, earlier this month. Salvia is not a prohibited controlled substance under federal law, although the DEA is evaluating whether it should be, a process that has gone on for more than five years now.

Salvia Divinorum: Man in First Bust Gets Deferred Sentence

Bismarck, North Dakota, resident Kenneth Rau, the first person arrested in the US on salvia divinorum possession charges, was sentenced Tuesday to a deferred sentence. Rau had pleaded guilty the same day to Class C felony possession of salvia, as well as two misdemeanors, possession of paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.
Kenneth Rau
Rau was arrested in April 2008 when police looking for his son searched his home and found salvia, numerous herbs, and a bit of weed and a pipe. North Dakota legislators had banned salvia the previous year, but Rau said he was unaware of that law and obtained his salvia leaf through eBay.

South Central District Judge Tom Schneider sentenced Rau to a three-year deferred imposition of sentence. That means Rau will be on supervised probation for three years, but the charges will be removed if he successfully completes it. He must also undergo a chemical dependency evaluation and any treatment if necessary, and pay $575 in court costs.

Rau originally was charged with possession of salvia with intent to deliver, but that charge was reduced to drop the intent to deliver portion upon further research of the substance, Rau's attorney, Ben Pulkrabek, said. Rau had obtained about eight ounces of salvia leaf for $32. Salvia sold commercially typically comes in concentrated form, not raw leaf.

Burleigh County Prosecutor Cynthia Feland recommended the deferred sentences, noting that Rau had no recent criminal history, no history of prior drug use, and had purchased the leaf on the Internet before its criminal status in the state was widely known. "Salvia is a relatively new drug having been added to the controlled substance list," she said.

After his day in court, Rau told the Bismarck Tribune he was not surprised at his sentence. "It's kind of what I expected, "he said. "I didn't think I would get any better from a jury trial."

Rau told the newspaper he did not think salvia should have been criminalized without more evidence. He also said the plant could have medicinal uses.

Salvia Divinorum: Ohio's First Bust Came Day Before Law Went Into Effect

An Ohio law criminalizing the possession of salvia divinorum went into effect Tuesday, but that didn't stop an over-eager Butler County sheriff's deputy from arresting a man for it Monday or Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones crowing about being the first to bust someone under the new law. Jones sent out a press release touting his coup at 11:00am Monday, but had to retract it before the day was over.
Google ads for salvia on web page reporting salvia arrest, North Dakota, April 2008
Salvia divinorum is a fast-acting, short-lived psychedelic member of the mint family traditionally used by Mazatec shamans in southern Mexico. It is not a federally controlled substance, but has been an object of concern among prohibitionist-leaning legislators across the country. Ohio is the latest of about a dozen states to pass laws criminalizing its possession or sale.

The bust came when Deputy Tim Andrews pulled over a Virginia man in a traffic stop Monday morning. After spotting a bag of marijuana in the vehicle, Deputy Andrews searched the car and found another bag marked "salvia divinorum." The Virginia man was charged with felony drug possession for the salvia, misdemeanor drug trafficking for a small amount of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia for having a scale. (Under Ohio law, possession of up to a quarter pound of marijuana is decriminalized.)

But shortly after the press release went out, a sheriff's detective questioned whether the charges were premature. The detective was correct, and the felony salvia charge was dismissed. The man's marijuana and paraphernalia charges remain.

"I don't have a whole lot (of sympathy) for this guy," Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He was coming from one place to another. He admitted selling a bunch of dope in Michigan. It's not like salvia was the only thing he got arrested for."

Yes, but it wasn't a crime when he got arrested for it.

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.
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.

Dutch campaign to relegalize Magic Mushrooms [request for action]

Save Our Shrooms ( website launched! This week international non-profit organization "Save Our Shrooms" has opened it's gates to relegalize the Magic Mushroom in the Netherlands, which were banned last december. The organization is a spin-off of the Dutch Smartshop Organization ( They will not rest until the VLOS wins the courtcase against the state, through higher appeals. That will happen sooner or later; it started in the Dutch court and will not stop untill it reaches the European Court. The mission to protect the Dutch psychedelic liberty is widely respected over the globe. They count on you too! How do they reach their goal? 1) Raising money to help the VLOS in their legal battle to fight the recent ban on shrooms. In fact, all donations will be send to the VLOS directly (no matter if you pay via Paypal, Bank and/or Cheque). A lawyer is very expensive. In contradiction to the VLOS, the government has unlimited funds. 2) Broadcasting the latest news and backgrounds on Magic Mushrooms and the legal battle. Important documents (such as courtcases and news articles) have been translated from Dutch to English by specialized agencies, and research will be funded. This way they can present you with a deep insight of the battle. 3) Getting people involved through social networking and remixing ideas on the website, to broaden horizons and strengthening our power. How can you help? 1) Make the network grow by forwarding the mission via email and other ways you can think of. 2) Volunteer; though brain- and/or muscle power. ...discuss with eachother and us, and read all about the options on the website. will save the Dutch Magic Mushrooms. Get informed, get involved!

Prohibition: Salvia Mania Sweeps State Legislatures as Bans Spread Across County

After more than five years of examination, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has yet to find that salvia divinorum is dangerous or addictive enough to merit placement as a scheduled drug under the Controlled Substances Act, but that isn't stopping legislators across the land from moving to criminalize it or restrict its sales despite the lack of any real evidence that it does anything more than take its users on a psychedelic journey of a no more than a few minutes duration.
salvia leaves (photo courtesy
Since the plant was first banned in Delaware in 2004, a handful of states each year have made efforts to prohibit the increasingly popular psychedelic. This year, the trickle is turning into a tide despite a rising chorus of opposition from scientists, researchers, public health experts, and people who believe they should be able to control their own consciousness.

The Nebraska legislature voted 44-0 last Friday to add salvia and its active ingredient, Salvinorin A, to Schedule I of its controlled substance list, the same as LSD and psychedelic mushrooms. The state of Nebraska is going to save its youth from themselves by sending them to prison for up to five years for having some leaf or extract, and up to 20 years for selling it.

The man behind the campaign to ban the plant, Attorney General Jon Bruning, pronounced himself satisfied. "I'm pleased with the legislature's vote today to ban salvia," Bruning said. "I think it is important that salvia not be allowed to be used by members of the public."

Nebraska's northern neighbor, South Dakota, is on the verge of doing the same. A bill pronouncing the salvia "threat" an emergency easily passed the House two weeks ago and a Senate committee this week. Under the emergency legislation, a ban would go into effect immediately upon the governor's signature of the bill.

And the Kentucky House Tuesday voted 99-0 to make it illegal to possess, buy, sell, or cultivate salvia. The sponsor of that bill, Rep. Will Coursey (R-Benton) told his colleagues the plant was a safety risk.

Meanwhile, similar bills have been filed or proposed in 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. Three more -- Louisiana, Maine, and Tennessee -- restrict the sale of the plant. Maine and California ban it only for minors.

Medical Marijuana: South Dakota Bill Killed, House Votes to Ban Salvia Divinorum for Good Measure

The 2010 South Dakota medical marijuana bill, HB 1127, died a newborn as a House committee voted to table it only a week after it was introduced. The bill failed in the House Health and Human Services Committee on a 9-4 vote after representatives of state law enforcement claimed it would make its job more difficult.
bad legislating in the South Dakota badlands
The committee heard from a number of South Dakota medical marijuana patients, including Gulf War veteran Valerie Hannah of Deerfield. She testified that exposure to chemical weapons during her service left her suffering from chronic pain. Since first trying marijuana in 2001, she said, she had been able to quit using morphine.

"Medical marijuana seems to have been the best pain and anxiety relief I've received in the past 10 years," said Hannah, who was a spokesperson for the failed attempt in 2006 to pass a medical marijuana initiative. That effort garnered 48% of the popular vote.

Sioux Falls MS sufferer Patrick Lynch also testified. He said marijuana eased the symptoms of his disease and the side effects of other treatments he was taking. "By taking a few puffs after I take my shot, which is an injection, it eliminates both the headaches and the nausea that go along with it," Lynch said. "I'm not a pothead. I'm a human being with a disease."

South Dakota Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles McGuigan was much more concerned about potheads than with human beings suffering from disease. He told the panel his office is opposed to marijuana in any form.

The push for the bill came from long-time South Dakota marijuana activist Bob Newland and the organization South Dakotans for Safe Access, who are vowing to put the issue to the voters in another initiative in 2010. During the legislative session, Newland told solons this year was their chance to craft a medical marijuana bill; next year it will be his turn.

A backup bill, HB 1128, which would have allowed an affirmative medical necessity defense, also died this week. It was "deferred to the 41st legislative day" by the House Judiciary Committee. South Dakota's legislative session lasts 40 days.

Meanwhile, the South Dakota House Monday passed a bill, HB 1090 that would place salvia divinorum on Schedule I of the state's controlled substances list. The bill declares an "emergency," meaning it will go into effect 30 days from being signed into law.

"I'd like to have the drug off the street by the end of February", said Rep. Chuck Turbiville (R-Deadwood), the bill's prime sponsor. "It's just finding its way onto the Internet. It's just finding its way onto the street."

At least the House accepted an amendment by Rep. Larry Lucas (D-Mission) that would provide for a misdemeanor possession charge. Under the Lucas amendment, less than two ounces of salvia would be a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

South Dakota looks to be well down the path to criminalizing salvia, joining an accelerating trend among the states.

2009 Boston Ibogaine Forum at Northeastern University

Please join us for this exciting forum! Complete schedule here: Ibogaine is a revolutionary poly-drug addiction interrupter that happens to be a schedule I drug, meaning that according to the FDA, there are no medicinal indications and a high likelihood for abuse. Unlike the hype of the counter-culture's sacramental-like advocacy of LSD and mushrooms in the 1960s, very few people knew of ibogaine or had ever taken it; unfortunately what little was known led it to be condemned by Richard Nixon with all other so-called ''hallucinogens." Indigenous to the West African Republic of Gabon, ibogaine is believed to be the principle active ingredient in the iboga plant, which has been used by the people of the Bwiti religion. For centuries, the Bwiti utilized iboga in rituals involving the veneration of deities or communication with ancestors as well as for treatments of various physical and mental ailments. In the west, however, the use of ibogaine has primarily been for treatment of chemical dependence to various drugs of abuse, including: nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, heroin and methadone/suboxone. Check out or log onto youtube and search for tons of video testimonials and documentaries regarding ibogaine's religious and medical implications. For more information, contact [email protected] or 516-884-5130.
Sat, 02/14/2009 - 10:00am - Mon, 02/16/2009 - 4:00pm
450 Dodge Hall
Boston, MA
United States

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

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.

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