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No salvia here, council says

December 15, 2010

Big Spring City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the emergency reading of an ordinance making the sale, possession or use of salvia — a hallucinogenic plant native to Mexico — a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.

According to Big Spring Police Chief Lonnie Smith, the use of the drug — also known as Diviner's Sage, ska María Pastora and Seer's sage — has already caused a number of Crossroads residents to seek medical help after consuming the product.

“For whatever reason, the effect was not what they were expecting, and that caused them to seek medical help,” Smith told the council. “We've already had three cases here, and one case is too many.”

Salvia came into the national spotlight recently when reports began circulating that there was a video of pop music icon Miley Cyrus smoking from a bong. Her publicists immediately went on the defense, stating she wasn't smoking marijuana, rather the herb salvia, which they stressed is legal in California.

While the drug is currently legal in many states, Florida, Virginia and Illinois are among the 15 that have prohibited the substance. Several other states have proposed legislation against salvia, including Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas. Many of these proposals have not made it into law, with motions having failed, stalled or otherwise died.

Smith said efforts to ban salvia at the national level through the Drug Enforcement Administration are ongoing, but with little assurance the ban will become law anytime soon it is vital for the city to do what it can to protect its youth.

“This situation is similar to what happened during the Nixon administration, when efforts were under way to make LSD illegal,” Smith said. “There are people who are using this substance to get high and still pass their employers' drug testing, which presents a danger in the work place, as well.”

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