Drug War

The Salvia May Be Simulated, but the Bars Are Real


You know about Salvia divinorum, the psychedelic herb that is sometimes mistakenly described as a legal marijuana substitute. And you know about imitation marijuana, the herbal "incense" sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids, five of which were recently banned by the DEA. But did you know about simulated salvia? On Monday state police in Kentucky, one of the 19 states that have banned salvia, arrested Jo Ann Warner, owner of Dusty's Adult World in Mortons Gap, and charged her with 23 counts of "prohibited practices concerning substances that simulate controlled substances," a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail for each count. A local news website describes the police work underlying the charges:

The investigation began on March 9, 2011. During the execution of a search warrant on Dusty's Adult World, troopers located items that appeared to be salvia or a simulation of salvia. The store had display cases of which one display case had salvia or simulated salvia and salvia paraphernalia items in it.

If the "simulated salvia" turns out to be real salvia, Warner could face felony charges that carry a penalty of up to five years in prison for a first offense and up to 10 years for subsequent offenses. But even if she was selling nothing but oregano, she would still be subject to the simulated salvia charges, because the relevant statute (PDF) applies to anyone who sells "any substance, other than a controlled substance, with the representation or upon creation of an impression that the substance which is sold or transferred is a controlled substance."

Here the government takes a law that should not exist and kicks it up another nonsensical notch, criminalizing not only consensual drug transactions but actions that resemble them. Warner was hit with a second set of meta-charges: 79 counts of possessing drug paraphernalia (real pipes used to smoke the fake salvia), also a Class A misdemeanor. Finally, the cops who noticed the simulated salvia and the pipes while browsing the shelves at Dusty's Adult World also determined that some of the pornographic DVDs and magazines crossed an invisible line into territory where the First Amendment does not apply, so they also charged Warner with 16 counts of yet another Class A misdemeanor, distributing obscene matter.

Last week I discussed drug sentencing reform in Kentucky. It looks like they have a ways to go.

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  1. One step forward, a swan-dive off a cliff back.

    1. I don’t think this was ever a step forward. If anything it was more boilerplate bullshit to get some asshat elected.

      1. I’m talking about the mandatory minimum sentence reductions.

  2. salvia aint a big deal. whipit-like high lasting about as long. then my skin got ichy so i scratched, n scratched, n scratched…

  3. did u scratch?

  4. This kind of shit makes my head explode.

    I’m curious who was harmed by someone using this stuff… aside from the sensibilities of the busybodies in the community? Anyone? Bueller?

    1. Salvia divinorum has been used by indigenous peoples of the Americas for ages.

      Not banned in Texas. Yet.

  5. So if I put dried basil in a plastic bag….Class A misdemeanor? We need more clarification on the “any activity that could, maybe, possibly, in someone’s opinion, appear to look illegal is in fact illegal” law.

  6. charged her with 23 counts of “prohibited practices concerning substances that simulate controlled substances,”

    If this was intended to punish people who “fraudulently” sold oregano as marijuana, it might make some sort of warped sense.

    What possible use is there for “fake” salvia? Are you going to keep a baggie on the dashboard of your car, and hope to win a big judgement against the cops when they toss you in jail?

    1. what about substances that simulate substances that simulate controlled substances?

  7. Did they have any simulated obscene matter?

    1. Like that soft-core stuff on Cinemax ?

  8. OK that seems logical when you think about it.


  9. Would a salvia placebo be illegal? What if you got high in a simulated, ersatz manner on a SIMULATED placebo?
    What if you truly got high on life?

    Also, this reminds me of “The Village” …of that of which we illegalize except that it is legal except when it is illegal which is when someone is trying to use that which is legal save when it is used illegally, and be that which is legal, which is similar to the illegal stuff when it is used legally and therefore is legal, which is not illegal save when it is illegally similar to that which is intended to be similar to the illegal intended… stuff. More or less.

    1. You beat me to it. A substance simulating a substance simulating an illegal substance…one more layer of simulation and you slip into limbo, unconstructed simulation space.

      1. It’s meta law enforcement.

  10. Where’s your Kentucky tea party hero on this? Oh yeah, he’s still at home jiggling the handle trying to get his megaturd to go down.

    1. And why would a Federal senator have anything to do with local law enforcement?

    2. My daddy is a worthless piece of subhuman shit. At least that’s what mommy said before she left us. I wish I had a new daddy. *sob*

  11. We didn’t get much of a media blitz on the Salvia. It was passed without much fanfare.
    The LEOs and the local media are still in a tizzy over meth. “We have to make every thing prescription for the sake of teh childrenz!!!!!!”
    Recently there has been a major sidetrack into “Teh ebil bathsalts are killing Ur kidzz!!!” This last one even had the white trash mom who smacked her 2 yo in the head with a metal chair then left him on the side of the interstate while suffering from “bathsalt induced hallucinations”

  12. I’m thinking they’ve got a due process problem here:

    Outlawing substances that simulate controlled substances doesn’t give me notice of what it is that I’m not allowed to sell. There’s any number of perfectly legal herbs and combinations of herbs that kind of simulate pot, in a way, depending on who you ask. Under this statute, I have no idea which are illegal. In a sane world, that would make the statute invalid.

    1. Outlawing substances that simulate controlled substances doesn’t give me notice of what it is that I’m not allowed to sell.

      This immediately jumped out at me as well. What if they were selling simulated caffeinated products? Does this type of legal reasoning apply to regulated as well controlled substances? Ambiguous law is ambiguously bad.

  13. Outlawing substances that simulate controlled substances doesn’t give me notice of what it is that I’m not allowed to sell.

    I believe that’s the point.

  14. Sorta like the idea that cartoon kiddies getting it on was kiddie porn.

  15. I wonder if you could get around the law by selling synthetic salvia under the brand “THIS IS NOT SALVIA”.

  16. Of all the damn things police could spend taxpayer dollars on, this ranks way lower than something like, oh, real drug dealers selling methamphetamine?

    Ludicrous waste of time and effort.

    1. Whereas, spending that same time and effort busting Meth dealers is a great use of taxpayer dollars?

  17. An excellent example of what happens after a substance that should not be criminalized becomes so.

    If you feel that salvia divinorum should remain protected under the law in the State of New York, please consider signing the following petition. THANK YOU!!


  18. I don’t understand why salvia is illegal in many countries. For me salvia is a medicine to relax.

  19. Great post! In this blog,it is explained the facts of the Salvia.It also described the action against the Salvia by the police in Kentucky .The police has arrested the Jo Ann Warner. We know that Salvia is legal or illegal, it’s depends upon the country .
    buy salvia

  20. Wonderful post! Really a nice discussion is done by you . I know that salvia is a small plant .It is legal or illegal ,it depends upon the country to country . It is buy locally and online both .Thanks for sharing the information .

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