Archbold, OH

Ohio Governor Signs Bill Banning Salvia; Pettisville Principal Pleased

Ted Strickland, Ohio governor, signed a bill on Jan. 6, 2009, banning the sale and possession of salvia divinorum and salvinorin A in the state.

The bill goes into effect in 90 days.

Salvia divinorum is also known as Diviner’s Sage, Sally- D, and Magic Mint. An ornamental garden plant that grows more than three feet tall, salvia has dark green leaves and white or purple flowers and is originally from Mexico.

Salvinorin A is the active ingredient in salvia divinorum. Biochemists consider it as one of the strongest natural hallucinogens.

The hallucinogenic herb was first brought to the attention of the Archbold Buckeye in late 2006 by Michael Lane, Pettisville High School principal.

The Buckeye published its first article on the plant on Jan. 10, 2007, after Lane expressed concern about the plant’s hallucinogenic effects, and the fact that area law enforcement and medical personnel generally lacked knowledge about the herb. (Additional articles were published in January 2008 and December 2008.)

A student approached Lane and told him that while smoking salvia, he thought some children’s building blocks had sprouted legs and were chasing him.

Salvia leaves can be dried and smoked, creating a five- to 10-minute hallucination for the user. The leaves also can be rolled into a quid, like chewing tobacco, and chewed for a high, or made into a tea for drinking.

When the Archbold Buckeye called local law enforcement and medical professionals in the area in January 2007, most said the call was the first they had heard about salvia divornum.

At the time, Ohio had no pending legislation on the herb.

House Bill 215

That changed on May 9, 2007, when Thom Collier, former legislator in Ohio’s 90th District, introduced House Bill 215 to the Ohio state legislature.

The bill makes salvia divornum and salvinorin A Schedule I controlled substances in Ohio.

Schedule I controlled substances are considered to be the most dangerous and include heroin, LSD, and marijuana.

Collier said he was unfamiliar with salvia divornum until a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by another 12-year-old in Loudonville, Ohio, about two years ago.

Salvia D. was in the room of the boy who shot his friend.

While officials didn’t know if the drug was in the boy’s system, the boy said he smoked the herb two or three times a week. His mother bought it for him- she said it “calmed him down,” said Collier.

Salvia divorinum is also suspected as a factor of the suicide of a teen in Delaware two years ago.

Cheap, Non-Addictive, And Readily Available

“I am pleased that the governor signed this important piece of legislation,” said Collier. “HB 215 will go a long way in protecting Ohioans by making the possession, sale, and distribution of this mind-altering herb illegal in Ohio.

“I found that many young people are already very familiar with this herb, but most adults are unaware of the severity of the hallucinogenic powers of salvia D.

“‘You Tube’ is filled with hundreds of video clips of people who are ‘tripping out’ on salvia D. It is sold in varying strengths, which may alter the length or depth of the ‘LSD-like’ high.

“The problem is, you don’t know the strength until it is too late.

“Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are fast becoming aware of the widespread use and potential harms of this product,” said Collier.

Salvia D. is cheap, non-addictive, and readily available at locations that would surprise many of us, and its popularity is growing.

“We found it for sale in head shops, cell phone stores, Inter- net sites, and even convenience stores.

“There were no age requirements for its purchase, and no consistent guidelines or safety precautions for its use.

“Parents, in particular, should become aware of this substance and talk with their children about the dangers of what may appear to be, or sold and promoted as, a ‘harmless herb.'”

“I was extremely pleased to hear that the governor stepped up and signed the bill making salvia illegal, and designating possession as a violation of a Schedule I controlled substance, in the same class as heroin, cocaine, or psychedelics,” said Lane. “It certainly fits.”

Ohio now joins at least eight other states that have banned or regulated salvia: Delaware, Montana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Maine, Missouri, and Illinois. Australia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Italy have placed salvia on their lists of controlled substances.

“The Archbold Buckeye played an important role in this process by taking an interest in this issue of concern that over 99% of the community was unaware of,” said Lane, “and took the time to research it enough to have an opinion to present to your readers and others throughout the state.”

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