Officials OK bill to illegalize hallucinogenic herb Salvia

By Marc Kovac

COLUMBUS — Lawmakers have signed off on legislation that would make it illegal to sell or possess a currently legal hallucinogenic herb and have sent the bill to Gov. Ted Strickland for his signature.

House Bill 215 passed the Ohio Senate on Tuesday, with House concurrence Wednesday. It was among the flurry of last-minute bills that made it through the legislative process in the final days of the Legislature’s lame-duck session.

The bill would add Salvia Divinorum and its derivative, Salvinorin A, to the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances, ranking it with marijuana, hashish and about 30 others.

According to information compiled by the state’s Legislative Services Commission, the “perennial herb [is part of] the mint family native to certain areas of the Sierra Mazateca region of Oaxaca, Mexico. The herb can be chewed or smoked to induce illusions and hallucinations.”

The legislation was offered by Rep. Thom Collier, a Republican from Mount Vernon, after being contacted by a Loudonville family whose son was shot and killed by a 12-year-old boy who was using Salvia Divinorum.

The final bill included a number of amendments, including one added by Sen. Kirk Schuring, a Republican from Canton, in response to a case in Tuscarawas County in which an individual was killed by a man driving without a license.

Under current law, penalties are enhanced in cases of vehicular homicide if the perpetrator has a suspended driver’s license. But the increased penalties do not cover individuals who have had their driver’s licenses canceled or who do not have licenses, Schuring said.

“In [the Tuscarawas County] case, this person never had a license, so we could not use the full force of the law,” Schuring said.

Schuring’s amendment adds language to cover individuals with canceled or no licenses.

The change also was part of separate legislation offered by Rep. Allan Sayre, a Democrat from Dover, who urged concurrence during a brief floor discussion.

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