State entities cracked down on natural hallucinogens and synthetic marijuana alternatives while weed enthusiasts celebrated 420 on Wednesday.
The Texas House passed a bill from Rep. Charles Anderson, R-Waco, 147-2 to ban the legal hallucinogen salvia divinorum. The Texas Senate will take up its version of the bill next. The bill classifies possession of the substance as a class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $4,000.
On the same day, the Texas Department of State Health Services outlawed marijuana-like substances commonly found in K2 and other synthetic-marijuana products. The department made it illegal to produce, distribute, sell or possess the substances, effective Friday. Penalties for violating the ban will constitute class A and B misdemeanors.
Anderson said his bill aims to protect youth and prevent the compromising of personal ethics.
“It’s not an addictive substance in itself, but people get addicted to the sensation they get from ‘traveling to different dimensions’ and all of that,” Anderson said. “People really don’t know what the long-term consequences of losing touch with reality will be.”
Kevin Prince, health education coordinator for University Health Services, said he is happy to hear that steps are being taken to regulate salvia because many people who try it are misinformed about its effects.
“People just don’t know what the effects on their bodies will be from using salvia,” Prince said. “It’s a major issue because it makes people sick and can become hazardous when people smoke it and try to drive.”
Andrew Sharp, a manager at BC Smoke Shop on Guadalupe Street, said he doesn’t expect the proposed ban on salvia to increase sales of the product before the ban goes into effect.
Sharp said he is not sorry to see the hallucinogen go because it produces less than one percent of the smoke shop’s sales, and he has had a bad personal experience with it.
“It was not fun at all,” Sharp said. “I was in the woods, and it was hot outside, so I was just sweaty and uncomfortable. I heard buzzing and thought things were chasing me.”