A New Drug Threat: Salvia – by Mike Bush

It looks like marijuana but users say its effect is more like LSD. According  to the Drug Enforcement Agency it’s use is growing in popularity among young adults. It’s called Salvia Divinorum and when smoked or chewed, it can pack a psychedelic wallop.

An herb grown in Mexico, Salvia is easily accessible on the internet or at several head shops around the metro area. Jeannette Grafeman, a clerk at a store that sells Salvia says you can buy it in many different forms. “You can smoke it or chew it. Some people buy it in liquid form and drop it on their regular tobacco,” says Grafeman.

Salvia is on the DEA’s watch list. They call it a drug of concern. And they were more than just concerned in St. Peters.

“We were having some problems at the malls with some assaults and some other juvenile issues and some of those issues had to do with kids that were using salvia,” says St. Peters police captain Jeff Finkelstein.

Captain Finklestein says he can’t say for sure that the assaults were as a result of the Salvia, but “The word to us was that kids were hallucinating. Anytime that you have anybody hallucinating especially kids under 18, it was something that really concerned us,” says Finkelstein.

So the Police took the problem to city officials who wanted to make the sale of Salvia illegal in St. Peters.

“But our city attorney informed us that this product is on the DEA’s watch list but has not been banned as an illegal substance. So the only thing the city could do was restrict the age with which the product can be sold” says St. Peters Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth.

In January of last year St. Peters became the first city in the nation to place a restriction on Salvia. It cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

“The vote was unanimous as it always is when it comes to dealing with protecting children,” says Hollingsworth.

Since Salvia is legal elsewhere, it’s hard to know if the ordinance in St. Peters is having an affect but St. Peters police tell us they’re getting fewer complaints about Salvia users. Jerry Hollingsworth doesn’t want to stop there. He wants action on the state level and then on the Federal level.

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