A man from North Dakota has been charged with possession of Salvia Divinorum, the naturally occurring plant with hallucinogenic properties. Police found 8 ounces of Salvia leaves in the apartment of Kenneth Rau back in April.

Rau told officers that he had got the drug to see if it would help him to recall some of his childhood memories. Regression and reliving certain aspects of one’s earlier life is an alleged effect of the Salvia hallucinogenic ‘high’ experienced when taking the drug. Rau told reporters that he does not feel any guilt and that he did not do anything wrong. Police disagree, however, and he faces being charged with a Class A felony which could see him paying $10,000 in fines and spending up to 20 years in prison. Ouch.

North Dakota is one of a handful of states that has successfully managed to ban Salvia completely. Everything from possession up todistribution has been outlawed. Rau is believed to have been the first arrest made under the new laws. Salvia remains legal in the majority of other states and, in fact, across the world.

Rau’s purchase of the Salvia leaves occurred on eBay — one of a huge array of sites that offer Salvia for sale legally through the postal system. Some high street shops still sell the leaves and it is even reported to be on sale in some gas stations.

The effects of the Salvia on Rau appear to have satisfy his urges to recall long forgotten memories; it also had an anti-depressant effect on him, he said. Rau’s arrest has brought him tremendous support from the on line community and many sites are urging fans to write to the North Dakota authorities to try and get him off the charge. In turn, Rau has spoken out in support of Salvia and its positive effects. It should, he opines, be controlled but not banned; further, its effects on old people should be researched and carefully considered.

Rau is likely to be used as the poster-child for the evils of Salvia by the police. Whether or not this is fair is a matter for much discussion.