One of the most well-known of the available herbs is called Salvia divinorum – so called because of its hallucinogenic properties. Indeed its name suggests something deeper than a cheap ‘trip’, and this is indeed the case. Salvia is used by – amongst others- certain Native American tribes to bring insight and ‘divination’. If only for this reason, legislating against it presents First Amendment issues regarding interference with religious practices.

Not only that, but there are strong suggestions that it may – in a similar way to cannabis – actually be of some medicinal value. The Mezateca tribe of Mexico has long used it medicinally, and submitted a report several years ago, regarding these perceived benefits, to Congress.

A third problem is that whilst Salvia produces an very intense ‘high’, this is of only short duration and there is no evidence that the effects are actually addictive – although there are health issues regarding the safety of those temporarily under its influence but with a reduced sense of self-preservation and co-ordination!.

Without addictive properties it would be legally impossible for Salvia to be put on a Federal list of banned drugs. On the other hand N.C does not want to be seen as doing nothing in the face of this new drug craze.

North Carolina’s approach has been to make possession a minor crime liable to a $25 fine. Two such charges would then constitute a misdemeanor. Possession of Salvia in the garden, however, would NOT be illegal, nor would its use for medical research.

This would appear to be a measured response in contrast to the hysteria that legislatures are often accused of in response anything tainted by the word ‘drug’.