Magic mint, which can get you 15 years in Florida, has become the first felony contrived via YouTube.
It was an inadvertent campaign. The YouTube set posted fits of silliness and intimated on their videos that their intoxication had been brought on by an hallucinogenic herb cultivated by Mazatec Indians down in Mexico -- Salvia divinorum. Some 5,000 salvia videos were posted on YouTube. And a dozen state legislatures were appalled enough by what they saw on their computer screens to outlaw the drug.
Florida, which loves the notion of packing its prisons with druggies, enacted a law this year that will cart a salvia head off to prison for 15 years. Apparently, the legislators based the new law solely on what they saw on YouTube. No scientific testimony necessary. Perhaps that was because there was no scientific evidence available that salvia represents a serious threat to society.
Consider these two paragraphs cribbed from a Sept. 9 New York Times piece that examined both the usage and the outlawing of the drug: "Though research is young and little is known about long-term effects, there are no studies suggesting that salvia is addictive or its users prone to overdose or abuse. Indeed, a salvia experience can be so intense, and at times so unsettling, that many try it just once, and even devotees use it sparingly.
"Reports of salvia-related emergency room admissions are virtually nonexistent, likely because its effects typically vanish in just a few minutes."
Apparently, in Florida, just looking silly is enough to get you 15 years.