Morrie Lanning drives House salvia ban towards another vote

The Legislature is once again considering a bill to make salvia divinorum illegal. Lawmakers first tried to ban the plant two years ago, after watching YouTube videos of kids getting high on the stuff.

For the last two years the legislation has failed to pass, but this year the bill has made it out of committee in both chambers. Supporters of the legislation say they're confident it will pass a vote on the floor.

Moorhead Republican Rep. Morrie Lanning filed the house version of the bill at the request of Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger.

Ebinger says he hasn't had a lot exposure to salvia, but he doesn't see any reason why it should be legal. "This is a substance with no positive attributes," he says. "We've seen videos on it, and we've talked to some life-long drug users who say they're afraid of it."

Ebinger also worries that salvia's high is so unpleasant it will make other drugs seem more attractive to kids. "It's so potent that it will desensitize a kid into being less adverse to using something else down the line," he said. But he concedes that as far as he can tell there isn't much demand salvia to begin with. "I'm not looking to put anyone in prison on this," he said. "It's more of a deterrent."

And if the bill fails to pass again this year?

"We'll bring it back again next year," Ebinger says.

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