Bill with local influence dies in state Senate

By Staff
Jason Cannon
A bill backed by Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, and supported by local law enforcement, became one of the casualties of this year's legislative session.
Sens. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, and Bedford sponsored bills to apply Alabama's marijuana laws to an increasingly popular hallucinogenic plant called Salvia divinorum.
Bedford's bill never got on the Senate's work agenda. Erwin's did, but ran into stalling tactics much like other bills this session.
Both bills, and hundreds of others, died Tuesday night, the deadline in the Alabama Legislature's 2008 session for a bill to win approval in the house where it was introduced.
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing, a vocal supporter of the ban and driving force behind the local bill, said he was disappointed no action was taken this year, but hopes to see it pass in the next legislative session.
"Roger is really supportive of (the ban) and I'll do everything I can to help him get it back to Montgomery in the next legislative session where it hopefully will pass," he said.
Salvia divinorum is a powerful psychoactive herb, which is known to produce euphoria effects similar to marijuana; the effects of smoked salvia typically last for only a few minutes but Rushing said in some cases the effect can be potent and dangerous.
"There have been cases where it causes hallucinations similar to LSD," he said.
"Those can last anywhere from seven to 10 minutes and the dangerous part is, they don't know what they're doing while they're tripping out.
"And they don't remember what they did when they come out of it."

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