Monday, March 02, 2009

The war on wild sage (salvia): Banning native plants

The reconstituted House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will hear its first bills of the session on Wednesday (see their agenda), starting off with a short, diverse list of bills headlined by HB 126 (Doc Anderson), which adds to the Controlled Substances list (Penalty Group 3):
Salvia divinorum, unless unharvested and growing in its natural state, meaning all parts of that plant, whether growing or not, the seeds of that plant, an extract from a part of that plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of that plant, its seeds, or extracts, including Salvinorin A.
What is salvia divinorum? A breed of wild sage. My wife says salvia is a staple for Texas gardeners - in fact, we've got some growing in the backyard. It blooms all summer, handles heat and drought, and draws butterflies and hummingbirds, she informs me. But apparently when smoked it will get you (somewhat unpleasantly) high. I wrote in 2007:
I'd not heard of this drug before, but it appears to be a psychoactive plant originally used by Indians in Mexico as part of shamanic religious rituals. But the plant grows naturally in Texas, and after studies in the 1990s identified its hallucinogenic qualities, its use for recreational purposes, said the Senator, has expanded among youth. ...

Sen. [Craig] Estes said to Google it, so I did. This source says that Salvia "is not habit-forming, not addictive, and does not present a significant risk to public health or safety," but I'd never heard of it.
The Houston Press in 2003 did a feature where several staffers tried salvia with friends and reported their experiences. (See more on the salvia debate from the Texas Observer.)

Because the drug is so obscure and unlikely to be abused, this arguably is another instance where messages promoting sentence enhancements do more to promote than deter the negative conduct they're targeting. Seeing the drug's effects described, it seems unlikely that salvia would become a popular recreational drug - unless they ban it.

UPDATE: See coverage of the hearing from the Houston Chronicle's Texas Politics Blog, where David Rauf wrote:
HB 126 was left pending because its current language, which would criminalize the entire plant and its seeds, was too broad. Gallego requested that Anderson amend his bill to criminalize only the Salvia extract that can cause hallucinations.


Anonymous said...

Is this not one of the types of plants choking up waterways, like in Caddo Lake?

Anonymous said...

No, Mr. Anon. Salvia is one of the plants choking up the retro-authoritarians at the Texas Legislature.

What is so ironic, is that there are many Texas native plants which are deadly. A bit in the wife's tea, and off she goes. But no attempt has been made, that I'm aware of, to outlaw such plants.

Indeed, the ubiquitous nature of salvia renders ridiculous any attempt to regulate it.

Anonymous said...

The Salvia your wife has referred to-is most likely Salvia officinalis. This is the garden sage that people use in cooking-and perfectly edible.As a horticulturist, I find it ridiculous that any such time and effort is being spent on this bill.There are countless plants out there that possess dangers if ingested,smoked,etc. What's next? Banning herbs/spices for cooking, plants used to produce tea/coffee, aromatherapy products, plants that have notable healing abilities for cancer, heart problems...let's move onto more important criminal justice issues.

MrCoffee said...

See these videos on YouTube. Many kids are using it, and it appears to make then incapacitated for a long time. They cannot speak, etc.

Click Here

x4livin said...

I've lived here all my life. I'm 20 miles from the town I was born in on land that was homesteaded generations ago by a grandfather. I have built a house here. The house I always dreamed of. I never thought I would ever concider leaving, but at this rate, I can't afford to raise kids here where the laws are so ambiguous and proliferate and seem to be in place to trip up anyone for SOMETHING. This is scary. It's like a runaway train. I'm sure I'm doing something that could get me arrested. I don't know what it would be, but I know, with as many "laws" as we are generating, and enhancements, I'm becoming genuinely afraid to leave my house(of course, there could be something illegal in doing that too)

Anonymous said...

Excerpts from Dallas Morning News September 2008

In a friend's garage at the age of 17, Ben Rosenblatt took his first hit of salvia and felt the effects within seconds.

The best way he could describe the feeling was like being “an inanimate object.”

It wassn't pleasant in any way," the Mesquite resident said.

Salvia divinorum, referred to simply as salvia, is an herb native to Mexico that can induce intense psychotropic hallucinations. It can be smoked like marijuana but the high is more like that of LSD. The effect is said to last only a matter of minutes, even at high doses, while disorientation can last longer.

In Texas, salvia can be purchased legally online or at retail outlets, like smoke shops and sexually oriented businesses. But a number of states, most recently Florida and Virginia, have criminalized salvia.

State Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco, hopes Texas will be next. Although he introduced legislation to ban salvia during the last session that died in committee, he plans to try again in January.

Mr. Anderson said he began focusing his attention on the dangers of salvia after he was approached by a pastor from Robinson whose foster daughter had tried the drug.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of videos depicting salvia trips are posted on the Internet. They show mostly young adults inhaling salvia smoke and then giggling, looking confused or even terrified. While some users just melt into their seats, others try to stand up and move around. Friends watching often find the episode hilarious, but they also function as "sober sitters" who ensure a safe experience, a practice recommended by Mazatec Garden, a Houston-based salvia distributor.

"To pick out this one herb and say we don't like this one because people are putting up Youtube videos about it – it just seems kind of arbitrary to me," said Brian Arthur, co-founder of Mazatec Garden. "I'm wondering why they would pick this particular herb that doesn't have any particular evidence of harm."

He acknowledged that the way salvia is marketed by some sellers is enticing to young people and he agrees with any law restricting salvia's sale to those 18 and older. "Purple Sticky Salvia," one company's brand name, is delivered in a colorful circular case that looks like it could be a package of mints or gum.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never knew! You've convinced me to try it for myself!

Anonymous said...

Wow! It takes at least a 12 pack of beer or a fifth of vodka to make me feel like an inanimate object. This stuff sounds so much more efficient and so less expensive. Far frigging out, man!

Anonymous said...

This blog is rather ironic for me. Today was the first day I have ever came in contact with Salvia. We were conducting a room search on a juvenile and came across several pills (no prescription) as well as a substance in a bag that I had no idea what I was looking at. The juvenile told me that it was Salvia and that he purchased at a local business (where you purchase tobacco, pipes, bongs, etc).

He stated that smoking Salvia gets you high and dizzy. And most importantly, it doesn't show up in a drug screen. I am all for the law!

WhosPlayin said...

Wow.. this is all new to me. I just had to ask my wife whether we have any Salvia in our yard. She looked at me like I'm crazy because I didn't know you could get high from it.

So, lets ban all things that can give people illicit pleasure. Can't have people having fun now can we?

Has anyone even scientifically proven that this stuff is dangerous, aside from the temporary stupidity?

Unknown said...

Ignorance, greed, idiocy, prejudice, and cowardice are what go into legislation banning Salvia divinorum. Some regulation could be reasonable given it is a potent entheogen, yet being non-toxic and a potential cure for addictions (of nearly any type), banning it simply reveals the most ignorant and shallow of legislators. I'm ashamed that the proposal to ban it in Minnesota came up again. A Red Herring for the blind and bloated egos that would rather perpetuate the nightmare instead of awakening within the dream.

Wake up people!!! You weren't born to be idiots, sheep, robots, or fodder for the nightmarish machine of ignorance greed and hatred. You are born Sons and Daughters of The Divine. Salvia is a gift to help (those who use it respectfully) remember and accept and live your Divine BirthRight.

Read up

People can be intelligent and powerful in kind and allowing ways. They can learn from their mistakes, learn from those that know skillful means, and share that knowledge with others. How else are we going to survive? If we let "Big Brother", Religion, and Big Pharmaceutical Corporation (among others) decide for us our fate, those three are like Trojan Horses for (again) greed, hatred, and ignorance...three faces of fear...we then let the nightmare continue unabated.

Again, read especially if you are considering using Salvia divinorum

Salvia=Sage=Sapio=wisdom remember, we are Homo sapiens (wise human) not Homey idiots.

Unknown said...


Salvia divinorum has large green leaves, hollow square stems, and white flowers with purple calyces. The plant grows to well over a meter in height.[1] Unlike other species of salvia, Salvia divinorum produces few seeds, and those that do appear seldom germinate. For an unknown reason, pollen fertility is also comparatively reduced. There is no active pollen tube inhibition within the style, but some event or process after the pollen tube reaches the ovary is aberrant.[22]

Partial sterility is often suggestive of a hybrid origin, although no species have been recognized as possible parent species. The ability to grow indistinguishable plants from seeds produced through self-pollination also weakens the hybrid theory of origin, instead implying inbreeding depression or an undiscovered incompatibility mechanism. Salvia divinorum is mainly propagated by cuttings or layering. Although isolated strands of Salvia divinorum exist, these are thought to have been purposely created and tended to by the Mazatec people. For this reason, it is considered to be a true cultigen, not occurring in a wild state. is considered to be a true cultigen, not occurring in a wild state.

this was from the Botany section of the Wikipedia entry

Unknown said...

I feel I have to add this...since I know some may not get around to doing any research on the matter. From the top of the wiki page:
Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner’s Sage,[2] ska María Pastora,[3] or simply by the genus name Salvia, is a psychoactive herb which can induce strong dissociative effects. It is a member of the sage genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family.[4] The Latin name Salvia divinorum literally translates to “sage of the seers”.[5]

Salvia divinorum has a long and continuing tradition of religious use as an entheogen by indigenous Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions.[1] The plant is found in isolated, shaded, and moist plots in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grows to well over a meter in height. It has hollow square stems, large green leaves, and occasional white and purple flowers. It is thought to be a cultigen.[6]

Its primary psychoactive constituent is a diterpenoid known as salvinorin A,[7][8] which is a potent κ-opioid receptor agonist. Salvinorin A is unique in that it is the only naturally occurring substance known to induce a visionary state this way. Salvia divinorum can be chewed, smoked, or taken as a tincture to produce experiences ranging from laughter to much more intense and profoundly altered states. The duration of effects is much shorter than that of other, more well-known psychoactive compounds; the effects of smoked Salvia typically last for only a few minutes. The most commonly reported after-effects include an increased feeling of insight, an improved mood, a sense of calmness, and an increased sense of connection with nature—though, much less often, it may also cause dysphoria (unpleasant or uncomfortable mood).[9] Salvia divinorum is not generally understood to be toxic or addictive, and as a κ-opioid agonist, it may have potential as an analgesic and as a therapeutic tool for treating drug addictions.

there is so much more

Anonymous said...

Please tell me this is a joke.

Anonymous said...

What the hell happens if you are clearing your garden of weeds and you have some of this growing in your garden? I you clear it are you prosecuted?

Anonymous said...

ppmm The holly yaupon is a halucinagenic. Just try to eradicate it. I dare you. Thousands of acres of it all over Texas.

Anonymous said...

If you breath enough air, fast enough, you will hyperventilate and pass out... I am going to propose a bill to ban the use of too much air!! There should be a ban of ANY air in lege....

x4livin said...

Anonymous said...
If you breath enough air, fast enough, you will hyperventilate and pass out... I am going to propose a bill to ban the use of too much air!! There should be a ban of ANY air in lege....

3/04/2009 06:12:00 AM

THANK YOU! THAT'S what I'M talking about. Can we not simply allow human beings to use their own common sense and not walk out and smoke anything growing in our yard, or if we do, suffer the consequences. People have been doing stupid crap and learning their lessons for as long as man has existed. Remember grapevine? My personal..rolling maple leaves in newspaper and trying to smoke that....I was green and pukin' and never did it again. Now we can erradicate all those potentially harmful maple trees too, huh.

Anonymous said...

The plant choking up waterways is salvinia, not salvia. It is not native to Texas and is extremely invasive. It is illegal to possess in Texas - I got some of it mixed in with shipment of plants I had ordered for my goldfish pond (it is sold legally in some states), and nearly went ballistic when I realized what it was. I have not ordered from that vendor since that incident.

I had never heard that yaupon was hallucinogenic. I know that it contains very high amounts of caffeine and can be used to induce vomiting - so, not very good for recreational use, I would guess.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that many people can't even figure out that not all salvias are the same. The Houston reporters who used the wrong salvia to get high weren't too bright, and their "hard hitting article" was more about cheap entertainment than education given that they couldn't even get their genus and species names straight, and they thought it was funny that some salvias are used in gardens. That's like thinking it's funny to eat portobellos because some mushrooms are psychotropic.

Anonymous said...

OK. let's see what else our all knowing and wise legislature can write a law about a law against SEX? It's addictive to some, puts you in an euphoric state of mind, 'an increased feeling of insight, an improved mood, a sense of calmness and an increased sense of connection with nature'. Heck, some even hallucinate and see fireworks going off. How about it "Doc"? Ready to go from the ridiculous to the sublime?

Anonymous said...

This is just the big Pharmacuetical companies beginning to systematically outlaw herbs UNTIL they can figure out a way to profit from..Anti depressants are the cause of every single gunshooting in highschools across this nation..But you will never see them outlawed. The chemical and pharmaceutical corps own our govt. and mostly everyone in govt is their pawn --regardless of what party-- dem or republican--Wake up America--we dont live in a democracy

Anonymous said...

If you think Salvia is nuts, howabout the other legal things at the grocery store (or walmart) like San Pedro cactus (contains beautiful Mescaline), Morning Glory Seeds (limited to Heavenly Blues, Pearly Gates, Flying Saucers, and Wedding Bells.. other varieties do not contain LSA's), or even nutmeg? Ever eaten a tablespoon of nutmeg powder from McCormick? HOLY COW. That stuff is LEGAL? Feels like pot brownies plus extra.. for a whole day or two! Outlaw cacao nibs while they're at it.. you can get that at Whole Foods and!