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Salvia divinorum

Lawmaker seeks to restrict sales of hallucinogenic herb

A bill aiming to keep a hallucinogenic herb called salvia divinorum out of the hands of young people would send a clear message to parents and the public that the substance poses risks, a state lawmaker contends.

"We're giving our citizens the opportunity to understand how dangerous it potentially is and that they shouldn't be using it," said Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley.

Meyer is sponsoring HB 2687, which would prohibit the sale of the herb those under 21 and also make it illegal to offer to sell or give it to a minor. At present, salvia divinorum is legal for sale without restrictions.

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously endorsed the bill Thursday.

Salvia divinorum, which is native to Mexico, produces a hallucinogenic effect when smoked or chewed. Meyer said some merchants who sell the herb think it's just a spice.

"We don't want kids getting into cars and driving on this stuff," Meyer said.

Fourteen states have passed laws regulating salvia divinorum and its distribution.

Meyer, a doctor, said making it illegal to sell salvia divinorum to those under 21 would virtually eliminate the market for the herb, possibly removing the question of whether to ban the herb entirely.

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"If this controls it and people stop selling it and it becomes less of a problem, then we're done," he said.

Stephanie Siete, director of public relations for Community Bridges, a group dedicated to substance abuse prevention, education and treatment, said it's important to get the word out about salvia divinorum and its effects.

"People who abuse it are aware of it, but the general public isn't," said Siete, who addressed the Judiciary Committee.

Ted Kaercher, who owns and operates The Headquarters, a Tempe smoke shop, said that his store already won't sell salvia divinorum to those under 18. He said he sees evidence that use of the herb is on the decline.

"Anybody who's wanted to try it has already tried it," Kaercher said.

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A salvia divinorum plant.

On the Web

Arizona Legislature: HB 2687

States with salvia divinorum laws

Here are states with laws either declaring salvia divinorum a narcotic or restricting its distribution:

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia