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Last updated 10:06PM ET
March 8, 2021
Time Running Out To Ban Hallucinogenic Plant In Ala.
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Web sites promoting a mind-altering plant claim ``time is running out'' on its legality. But that may not be the case in Alabama.

Alabama legislators refused to outlaw Salvia divinorum in 2007, and they are one day away from doing the same thing this year.

``It's clearly a harmful, psychedelic-type drug,'' said Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville.

Bedford and Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, are sponsoring nearly identical bills to make Salvia divinorum illegal in Alabama. It would be treated like marijuana, with the same penalties.

Tuesday is the deadline in the nearly completed 2008 legislative session for either bill to pass in the Senate. If they don't pass Tuesday, they are dead. If one passes, it would still have to win House approval in the two meeting days remaining after Tuesday.

Sherri Williams, who sells salvia in her Pleasures adults-only stores in Huntsville and Decatur, said sales have gone up about 10 fold since the Associated Press first reported about the proposed ban in February.

``People are stocking up. They might normally buy two packs. Now they are buying 12 packs,'' she said Monday.

In Williams' view, claims about salvia's effects are dramatically overstated. She says salvia provides ``a nice relaxing buzz.''

This salvia is not the flowering salvia that is found in many Southern flower beds and that is sometimes called red or blue sage.

``This salvia comes out of Mexico, not out of Home Depot,'' Erwin said.

Salvia divinorum was used by Mexico's Mazatec Indians for ritual healing for centuries. Its use has now expanded to many countries, including the United States, where it is sold on the Internet and in stores.

Alabama is one of several states considering salvia bills.

In March, the Florida Legislature criminalized salvia by treating it like marijuana. Florida's action followed similar laws in Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Illinois. Tennessee has made it a misdemeanor offense, and Maine has banned the sale to people under 18.

Salvia is not banned by the federal government.

Web sites like offer salvia for sale in states where it is still legal and encourage customers to act now because ``time is running out.''

Erwin said a salvia ban failed last year and it hasn't gained widespread support this year because many legislators aren't familiar with the plant.

He rates the odds of his bill passing on Tuesday as slim because the Senate has many bills competing for attention due to filibusters that took up most of the session. He tried to get his bill passed last week, but he was blocked by a senator who was retaliating against Erwin for stopping one of his bills.

That senator, Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said Monday he would support Bedford's bill if it comes up Tuesday.

Bedford, chairman of a Senate budget committee, said his first priority Tuesday is to get the Senate to pass the state General Fund budget. After that, he hopes the Senate will have time to take up his salvia bill and many others that will be dead if not passed Tuesday.

Williams said she has been wishing for three months that the salvia bills would die, and she's delighted the budget will be the Senate's top priority on the make-or-break day.

``It looks like my wishes have been granted so far,'' she said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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