Is Salvia Legal in Texas?
Salvia divinorum, sometimes called the “Diviner’s Mint” or “Seer’s Mint,” is a plant with psychoactive properties that grows in sandy, moist climates. For years, this drug has been relatively unknown to the American public, slowly gaining popularity over recent years due to its assumedly mild effects and non-addictive nature. If you have been charged with possession of salvia, speak to a Houston drug possession attorney as soon as possible.
Many people throughout the world smoke dried salvia leaves for the psychoactive effects it causes, such as mild hallucinations, feelings of dissociation, and euphoria. A handful of states have enacted legislation restricting the sale, purchase, possession, and consumption of salvia, and Texas enacted such laws in 2013.
Salvia Penalties in Texas – 2020
Salvia divinorum is a Penalty Group 3 Controlled Substance in Texas. This means the resulting charges could be misdemeanor or felony level depending on the amount possessed at the time of arrest. There are also different penalties for simple possession, possession with intent to deliver, and manufacturing for the purposes of sale. When it comes to possession with intent to sell, 28 grams or less of salvia divinorum in Texas will incur a state jail felony carrying a sentence of no less than 180 days in a state jail up to a maximum of two years. For 28 to 200 grams, the charge is a second-degree felony punishable by a minimum of two years in prison up to a maximum of 20 years.
Possession of 200 grams to 400 grams with intent to distribute or sell is a first-degree felony carrying a serious sentence of a minimum of five years to life in prison. 400 grams or more will incur a penalty of no less than ten years in prison up to a maximum of life in prison. Penalties also increase if an offense involves the injury or death of another person or if the offense involves children in any way. For simple possession of salvia, the penalties are less severe.
- Simple possession of 28 grams or less is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine.
- Simple possession of 28 to 200 grams is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison.
- Simple possession of 200 to 400 grams is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
- Any simple possession over 400 grams is a first-degree felony with a potential sentence of five years to life in prison.
Why Is Salvia Illegal?
Texas state lawmakers have cited salvia divinorum’s psychoactive properties as a danger to public health. The drug’s effects are temporary compared to most other illicit substances, usually lasting no longer than an hour. However, salvia can cause intense dissociative feelings and hallucinations. This can make operating a vehicle or working in certain work environments very dangerous.
Salvia is also very dangerous when taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol, potentially causing life-threatening cardiovascular and respiratory difficulties. Prior to the outlawing of salvia in Texas it was a popular choice among teens and young adults, typically marketed as a safe and non-addictive alternative to marijuana or other hallucinogens.
Defenses Against Drug Charges in Texas
If you face any type of drug-related criminal charges in Texas, it’s best to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The possible penalties are severe, and first-time offenders may qualify for alternatives to jail time such as fines, probation, or the completion of drug rehab or a substance abuse education course.
Depending on your prior criminal record, a defense attorney may help you plead to a lesser offense and minimize your penalty. However, remember that any type of drug charge will almost always lead to more severe penalties if the offender commits a second offense in the future.
It is also important to remember that salvia divinorum is a naturally growing plant in some areas of Texas. It’s possible that you have salvia growing in your yard right now without realizing it. Salvia in its natural, unharvested growing state is perfectly legal as long as a property owner can prove he or she had no intention of using the plant for hallucinogenic purposes. If you face an accusation to the contrary, a criminal defense attorney can help.