Oklahoma has become one of the first states in the nation to outlaw a recreational drug that has grown in popularity over the last several years. Mark Woodward, Spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, says Salvia Divinorum also known as ''Salvia'' is now a Schedule I banned substance. Woodward says his agency worked with State Representative David Derby and State Senator Jonathan Nichols to enact House bill 3148 this past spring. Governor Brad Henry signed this measure into law June 2, 2008. Woodward says Salvia is a dangerous substance that has been popularized by on-line video web sites.
''The trend is for teens and young adults to smoke Salvia and have a friend video-tape their experience. They will then post the video on- line. It is very disturbing to watch these kids go through what they, themselves, describe as a frightening, out of control episode.''
---Mark Woodward, OBNDD Spokesman
Woodward says smoking Salvia creates very powerful hallucinations which cause users to become incoherent or unconscious for several minutes, leaving them vulnerable to harm. Use of Salvia in Oklahoma has been documented, and OBNDD Director R. Darrell Weaver is taking a proactive approach to tackle this trend before it becomes widespread.
''The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is a vigilant watch dog when it comes to new substances which may harm our citizens and most importantly our children and young people. There is nothing good that comes from Salvia and we will fight tirelessly to control such unwanted substances in Oklahoma.''
---R. Darrell Weaver, OBNDD Director
Woodward stresses that this new law should not alarm Oklahomans who have Salvia-variety flowers in their garden. There are currently 700- 900 different species of Salvia. Woodward says Salvia Divinorum is a particular strain of the Salvia species that is grown in southern Mexico. Some stores import and market Salvia Divinorum as a legal substitute for marijuana. It has also been advertized and sold on-line as ''legal cannabis'' to lure new, younger customers. OBNDD and the Drug Enforcement Administration are alerting wholesalers, distributors and the public that possession of Salvia Divinorum in Oklahoma is now a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and distribution carries a penalty of 5 years to life in prison.