Drug Policy

The Salvia Ban Wagon Makes a Stop in Dallas


The salvia ban wagon that I described in the December 2009 issue of Reason has arrived in Dallas, where I live. Under a new ordinance that took effect on Sunday, possessing, using or selling Salvia divinorum, a psychedelic member of the mint family, can trigger a citation and a $2,000 fine. The ordinance also bans K2 (a.k.a. spice), "incense" consisting of dried herbs sprayed with a synthetic chemical that is supposed to produce THC-like effects, along with paraphernalia intended for use with either drug. As usual, the law applies to adults, but its aim supposedly is to protect children. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert explains:

More and more kids are using these products because they create the same effects as illegal drugs but currently are legal and easy to get. The fake marijuana and salvia are just as dangerous as the real thing, and we need to move now to stop them from being sold and used.

Leppert probably is right that the newly illegal drugs are about as dangerous as pot, which only reinforces the stupidity of this law. He is not right that salvia creates "the same effects" as marijuana, a claim that the local NBC affiliate uncritically repeats (as have various other news outlets). I've never tried K2, but I suspect it would be much more popular if it were a close approximation of marijuana.

Evidently salvia is now contraband in most of North Texas, since several other municipalties have adopted similar ordinances. State legislation—two of whose supporters appear in my Reason article, offering the best arguments they can muster for treating salvia as a public menace—still has not been approved. So far 20 states (up from 15 when I wrote my article) have enacted salvia bans, while three (California, Maine, and Maryland) have taken the much more sensible step of prohibiting sales to minors.

The Dallas ordinance raises some perplexing practical questions. Suppose you were researching an article about Salvia divinorum, and in the course of that research you bought some online. At the time you made this purchase, it was perfectly legal. But just by letting the unused portion sit in a drawer in your office for the last four days, you've been breaking the law, which you didn't even realize until somebody mentioned it at poker last night. What does the city officially expect you to do with this contraband it just created? You wouldn't want to risk transporting it to the police station or throwing it out in the trash. Probably the best option is to burn it.

Nick Gillespie noted the K2 crackdown in February. 

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  1. Hopefully Houston and Austin don’t follow suit. My opinion of spicy green (different brand of k2 i guess) is that it is very similar to mj. In fact in most circumstances I prefer it. Most people have never heard of it when I tell them. I figured that it wouldn’t even be on the government’s radar around here but I guess not.

  2. The fake marijuana and salvia are just as dangerous as the real thing,

    And just how are those things more dangerous than tobacco cigarettes or alcohol? Are they more dangerous than anti-depressant medication which most have the wonderful side effect of amplifying suicidal thoughts/tendencies?

    Someone get me this tit’s email.

    1. No, he really means to say, if I’m to take this literally, is that it isn’t fucking dangerous at all.

  3. k2 (I prefer brand Spice Gold) is very much like mj. It will get you real high, real quick. It is more of a energetic high but your head is definitely in the clouds. It also has a bit of that paranoia to it. If you don’t smoke pot because you feel paranoid, then stay away from spice.

    1. I’m a dedicated stoner, and I just tried out a “Spice” type blend the other day. From what I’ve read they’re essentially all just herbal blends coated with JHW-018 and possibly other synthetic cannabinoids.

      It certainly does get you high, and in some ways it’s similar to a marijuana high. For me though it lacked the nice relaxing body feeling, and had an almost stimulant edge to it. A but uncomfortable to tell you the truth. There’s something more complex and subtle about a true cannabis high, which makes sense given the dozens of different cannabinoids and other organic chemicals in pot.

      But hey, when you run out of weed it’s not a bad thing to have around. One word of caution though: do not mix the shit with alcohol. Not. Fun.

      1. Sorry, that’s JWH-018. Which, by the way, can be purchased in pure form on the interwebs.

  4. Salvia is still legal in GA? I’m surprised they didn’t tack it on to the fake mj ban.

  5. Ban Oregano!

  6. The legislators coming up with these bans know as much about salvia as the Congress of 1937 knew about marijuana. It’s really tragic to see history repeat itself so blatantly. The very idea that anyone could smoke salvia habitually is insane…

    1. Yeah strong psychedelics virtually eliminate the possibility of habitual use. Tripping isn’t “fun” in the day-to-day sense of the word.

    2. But it’s For THe CHILDREN!!!!!!!

  7. I’ve had K2 and it definitely fucks you up, albeit for a short duration. The different blends actually have different effects. The citron was quite lovely, and made me want to fuck anything that moved, along with providing a very nice stoned feeling. The summit was way too strong. I smoked a big fat bowl and almost immediately regretted it. I was out of my mind and not in a good place for a few hours. It was pretty intense.

    1. Yeah man I’m right there with you. I had a few beers one night and smoked a bowl of this stuff, and I was straight-up tripping. Not in like a good cool way, but in like a freak-out helpless way. Not good.

      I also noticed the, err, sensual side of it with lower doses (and sans alcohol). Which was kinda cool. At the end of the day I much prefer the real stuff though.

  8. Once a drug is made illegal, it becomes automatically much more easily available to the children. Indeed, you are offering the market to the bandits who does not ask for ID, and use of illegalities to sell his products to the younger.
    If you want protect children from a drug, make it legal and regulate it properly.
    Prohibitionists are the objective ally of the terrorits and bandits.
    Also, Salvia and Cannabis are MUCH MORE SAFER than alcohol and tobacco. They are indeed much more safer than caffeine and aspirin. Don’t confuse psycho-activity with dangerousness: those are NOT related.

  9. can K2 make you test positive for cannibis in a urine test?

    1. Nope, it can’t. Which has led to strong popularity among military, law enforcement, parolees, athletes, and other routine pee-droppers.

  10. Shit, I don’t even think it’s possible to get psychologically addicted to salvia. That’s a once-every-six-months thing at the very most.

  11. You can still buy K2 at the local head-shop here in Tarrant county- or at least my brother did last week.

  12. Why don’t they make poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac illegal? Those plants actually have killed people.

    1. Because people can’t have fun with those plants. That’s the real problem here — politically incorrect happiness. Safety has nothing to do with it.

  13. Salvia sucks. Take it from me and put it under the “let’s not and say we did” category

  14. The key with salvia consists in beginning with the leaves and increment the dose slowly, with extracts if needed. It is better to do it in the dark and silence, after some meditation, and in the ‘let it go’ state of mind. The experience can be wonderfully amazing. Note that small non psychedelic doses have already many health benefices. A friend of mine like cannabis, appreciates very much the magic mushrooms but love Salvia divinorum. It is a beautiful and original plant also. It has a constipating effect that you can compensate with blueberries juice.

  15. People just need to be careful of where they buy k2 from. Apparently there is only a handful of authentic blends. That blueberry and peach stuff, amongst a million other blends, are counterfeit.

  16. aye yi yi. A lot of us don’t think the real thing is so dangerous. Keep making mountains out of molehills…

  17. The base order is pretty clear. If you use Spice, you’re violating a direct order and you will face punitive action

  18. probably it is right that the newly illegal drugs are about as dangerous as pot, which only reinforces the stupidity of this law.

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