Maryland Legislature to Consider Criminalizing Salvia Divinorum

Press Release January 26, 2009
Media Contact

Naomi Long at (202) 669-6071

What: Hearings for bills to criminalize salvia – House Bill 8 and Senate Bill 9

When: Tuesday, January 27, 1 p.m.

Where: HB 8 — House Judiciary Committee room 101; SB 9 — Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee room, Ste. 2E

Maryland state legislators are seeking to make salvia divinorum a Schedule I drug which would make the substance illegal and out of the realm of research. Opponents say the bill will have the consequence of making it easier for minors to obtain salvia by putting an outright ban on the drug and driving it underground rather than seeking to bring the sale and use of the drug under state regulation and control. Schedule I designations are reserved for substances with the highest potential for abuse and the lowest medicinal value.

“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, Director, of the Drug Policy Alliance, D.C. and Maryland Project. “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.”

Neither the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) nor Congress have taken any action on Salvia Divinorum. Studies have shown that Salvia has no known potential for abuse and may be a candidate for treating addiction, eating disorders, and even HIV infections.

The bills, House Bill 8 and Senate Bill 9 are scheduled for hearings in the Judiciary Committee room 101 and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee room Suite 2E on January 27 at 1 p.m.

The bills to criminalize salvia, a psychoactive herb, have been introduced by Delegates Addie Eckardt (R) Jeannie Haddaway(R) and Senator Richard Colburn (R).

The Drug Policy Alliance opposes both bills.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.