Kenneth Rau, 47, is thought to be the first person in the US to be charged with the possession of Salvia, a Class C felony in Rau’s home state of North Dakota. Salvia – and its active ingredient salvinorin A – were banned under North Dakota law in 2007.

Police entered Kenneth Rau’s home on April 7, 2008 as they searched for his son, Scott Rau. Scott was found hiding in a neighbor’s basement, the courts heard, and he attacked police with a baseball bat. The officers at the scene conducted a ‘clear’ search of Kenneth Rau’s apartment, fearing for their safety. While checking this out, Officers spotted a marijuana pipe on a computer stand. After searching the rest of the apartment, police found 8 ounces of Salvia, some drugs paraphernalia and a quantity of marijuana.

Kenneth Rau and his legal team were arguing for suppression of the evidence in the case; they considered that the search of his apartment was improper and those items found during it should be, they argued, inadmissible in the case.

Unfortunately for Rau and his team the Judge ruled that the police were well within the rules when finding the drugs. Firstly the ‘clear’ operation was a matter of routine when officers felt that they were in danger; secondly they did not search any of the private rooms to find the marijuana pipe, it was in clear view; thirdly a thorough search – that which revealed the Salvia and the marijuana – was done with Kenneth Rau’s consent (albeit under the knowledge that if he failed to give consent a warrant would be obtained). Kenneth Rau is a former attorney, and understood the consequences of his actions, the Judge said.

The trial was due to start on January 21, but had to be moved back due the availability of witnesses.