Salvia now illegal in Florida


By WINK News

Story Created: Jul 1, 2008 at 6:17 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Starting Tuesday, it will be illegal to sell, use or possess the hallucinogenic plant known as salvia in Florida.

Salvia may sound familiar to you. There are hundreds of varieties of salvia and many can be found in your garden, like sage.

The one that's illegal is called 'Salvia Divinorum' and it's the active ingredient called Salvinorum A that can cause a hallucinogenic high.

Don't worry, it's not likely you have the illegal variety of salvia growing in your garden.

Workers at the Estero nursery, Driftwood Garden Center, say Salvia Divinorum was not commonly sold at nurseries. But that didn't stop people from asking about it.

We stopped by a few tobacco shops in Fort Myers. Shop owners did not want to go on camera, but tell us they used to sell a lot of salvia months ago, especially after customers saw how people reacted to the drug in videos posted on video sharing web-sites like

However, ahead of the new law, some shops stopped carrying salvia a month ago.

The new law in Florida puts salvia in the same class of illegal drugs like marijuana and LSD.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Myers Police Department say they haven't had a lot of run ins with the now illegal drug. It's now on their radar and they tell us they intend to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law if someone is caught with it.

If Salvia is found in Southwest Florida, it will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's crime lab in Fort Myers to be positively identified.

"We have identified an extraction process which we will use in order to extract the chemical component that's the active ingredient in salvia," explained Mary Jane Havener, FDLE crime lab supervisor.

Havener says FDLE has been working with crime labs in other states where salvia has already been outlawed to come up with an appropriate identification process for Florida.

FDLE in Jacksonville is working to validate the process and it's expected to be complete by August.