It may surprise many Maryland residents that a hallucinogen is in fact legal both in our state and throughout the rest of the U.S. However a statewide ban on the hallucinogen, salvia, is waiting to be passed by the Maryland General Assembly. This ban may not come soon enough for Worcester County. According to a recent report, the County Commissioners introduced a bill to ban salvia in all of Worcester County. Decision on the bill will be made during a public hearing during which it will be decided whether or not emergency legislation should pass. If the bill is passed on September 1, 2009, it will go into effect right away.
The recent efforts to ban salvia are not the first Maryland has seen. A Mid-Shore Maryland State Senator last year sponsored a bill to criminalize salvia that turned out to be unsuccessful at getting the herb on the list of Schedule I drugs, those which are illegal to both possess and sell. The Senator referred to salvia as “one of the most powerful natural grown hallucinogens known to mankind…as powerful as psilocybin mushrooms.”
Others who have been supporting a ban on the hallucinogen would also like to see legislation passed to criminalize salvia; however, enforcement could be a big challenge considering that saliva grows freely unbeknownst to homeowners and in various other locations. Specifically, the debated plant is salvia divinorum, a typically non-flowering variety of sage, which has over 700 species. These sage varieties are popular garden adornments and herbs used for cooking; however salvia divinorum is not sold for ornamental use by garden stores or retail shops.
The proposed bill also prohibits owning or selling paraphernalia for the ingestion, processing, or growing of salvia; however details pertaining to the exact definitions of what that paraphernalia may be are not outlined in the bill.
This ban is likely to be challenged, mainly due to the question of what its legal enforcement and implementation may cost taxpayers. One commissioner noted that Maryland has been successful with regulating adult entertainment businesses and tattoo parlors without banning them. Similarly, it may prove successful if regulating the age of those purchasing salvia, rather than completely banning it, is enacted and put into law.
As our communities constantly evolve, so do both legislation and laws surrounding an abundance of safety procedures and criminal offenses. In the purposed ban against salvia, commissioners are doing what they feel is morally right to protect the citizens of Maryland.
When new laws are introduced, very often new procedures for law enforcement are introduced as well, specifically those procedures regarding how to determine if someone has committed an illegal act. For instance, if salvia becomes illegal, law enforcement is likely to develop new procedures to help determine illegal usage of the substance, particularly in regard to determining whether or not a person is under the influence of it. Also, the penalties associated with a salvia offense will need to be created and enforced. In the event that you are charged with a drug offense in Maryland, contact the experienced Maryland drug crime defense attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC to find out how we can help defend your rights.
Source story: http://www.mdcoastdispatch.com/article.php?cid=30&id=6847