The House gave early approval today to a bill that would ban salvia divinorum, a legal hallucinogen.
Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco, authored the bill, which would classify the plant as a controlled substance, punishable by a class A misdemeanor and a fine of up to $4,000.
Anderson said he was concerned that the drug is being used primarily by high school students. "The problem is that we have a potent hallucinogen that's readily available," Anderson said. "And a lot of kids are being peer pressured into using it simply because it's legal."
Anderson added that the drug's danger lies in its unpredictability, as its effects last anywhere from five to 30 minutes, with hangover effects lasting several hours.
Though many municipalities in Texas have placed criminal restrictions on salvia, it is still actively distributed in some head shops and, more frequently, online.
This isn't the first go-around for salvia in the Legislature. Bans were proposed in 2007 and 2009, but the lack of public knowledge of salvia's effects, as well as the chub-a-thon in 2009, stalled legislative action, Anderson said. But he added that legislators are well-versed this session in the drug's effects and said he's hopeful the ban will pass.
The bill will be taken up for a final vote tomorrow.