Maine regulates use of Salvia divinorum
v1.0 - Jun 1, 2007
ME LD 66
Final Disposition: ENACTED, Wed May 9, 2007
Governor's Action: SIGNED, Tue May 15, 2007
Back in November 2006, Maine State Representative Chris Barstow sponsored a bill to ban the possession and sale of Salvia divinorum in Maine. This was at the request of a constituent of his, Kim Johnson, who also happens to be the head of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse. The announcement of the pending legislation was a media affair with all the usual one-sided misinformation being supplied by the bill's supporters. It would have scheduled Salvia in the same class as marijuana, making possession and sale at least a misdemeanor, and in some cases, a felony.
The good news is that people did stand up against it. At the Public Hearing of the Committee for Criminal Justice and Public Safety in January 2007, it took only two people speaking in opposition to the ban (and most likely many more who emailed or wrote in their opposition) to make this far from a rubber stamp approval. In the face of those supporting the ban legislation—including the Maine DEA, Maine Office of Substance Abuse, Maine Pharmacy Association lobbying group, Maine Substance Abuse Treatment, Prosecuting Attorneys Association (represented by the ME State Attorney General), the bill's sponsor, and a member of the general public—it really seemed like a lost cause.
But in the February Workshop meeting of the Committee, it was decided that there was not enough evidence against Salvia to ban it. Instead, the Committee recommended passing an amended bill 8-4, regulating use to citizens 18+. The minority of four who opposed regulation were split--two wanted to ban it and would not vote for regulation, two thought that even regulation was too much control.
In May 2007, the House and Senate passed it on to the Governor, who signed the bill in to law. In effect, after careful consideration, the State of Maine has said that Salvia divinorum is in fact OK for adults to use at their own discretion. This is a wonderful example of how it takes very few individuals willing to take a public stand against prohibition to make a difference, how the fight at local and state levels are vitally important for maintaining personal rights, and perhaps how other currently scheduled entheogens can be regulated instead of prohibited.
The lesson here? Get involved. Yes, you--if you care, personally get involved in fighting a Salvia ban if it shows up in your state. No one else will do it for you. It is your personal responsibility to protect your own rights. Where people show up in person to publicly oppose bans, those bans may fail. CA and ME are excellent examples. When people don't show up, prohibition is enacted—see IL, for example, this year. The more states that fall, the more the Feds will also start looking back into it. Marijuana laws started with state and local bans. You have much more voice at the state level than you ever will at the national level. So don't whine about it like there's nothing you can do. You can make a difference if you just put some effort into it. Aren't your rights worth it?
More Information on Salvia Law
[Erowid note: Daniel Siebert wrote this letter to the California legislature in opposition of a proposed ban. ]