Cops Raid Legal Herbalists in Nebraska


Cory Matteson
Lincoln Journal Star
March 13, 2008

A legislative bill that would make Salvia divinorum an illegal drug in Nebraska has little chance of passage during the last six weeks of the legislative session.

Lincoln Police on Monday made a Salvia bust anyway.

Citing a state statute that prohibits Nebraskans from selling certain compounds that will induce an intoxicated or otherwise mind-altering state, officers executed a search warrant on Exotica, 2441 N. 48th St. The Lincoln store sells the herb, a cousin of sage, generally smoked to create a short-term hallucinogenic experience.
Exotica owner Christian Firoz said four officers entered his store early Monday evening, took all his Salvia and issued him a citation for selling certain compounds.

“They said they’re going to hit everybody that’s selling Salvia and take everything,” Firoz, 35, said.

Firoz said his court date is April 16, and that he’s going to challenge the citation.

“I signed (the citation),” Firoz said. “I’ll be in court. We plan to fight it because we’ve been selling it for a while and it’s a lot of our sales.”

He also said the information that he has leads him to believe it is legal to sell Salvia.

Sen. Vickie McDonald of St. Paul sponsored the bill to ban Salvia on behalf of Attorney General Jon Bruning. The bill has no priority status, and there’s little movement to add it as an amendment to another bill.

But Lincoln Police determined that a law currently on the state books outlaws the sale of Salvia.

One day after Firoz was quoted in the Journal Star about Salvia divinorum’s trance-like effects, his quotes ended up in a Lincoln Police report, Lincoln Police Capt. David Beggs said.

“It’s all psychological,” Firoz said in the article. “It puts you in a trance. It’s very hard to explain.”

State statute 28-420 bans the sale of any substance which will induce an intoxicated condition when the seller “knows or has reason to know that such compound is intended for use to induce such condition.”

The “intoxicated condition,” as defined by Sec. 28-419, can include a “condition of intoxication, stupefaction, depression, giddiness, paralysis, inebriation, excitement, or irrational behavior, or in any manner changing, distorting, or disturbing the auditory, visual, mental or nervous processes.”

Beggs said an undercover officer purchased some Salvia earlier at the store Monday. Then the search warrant was executed, resulting in the seizure of 8.5 grams of the substance.

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