By now, you’ve probably seen the video of Miley Cyrus allegedly smoking salvia from a bong , and you’re probably wondering whether she might face legal repercussions as a result of the clip. According to organizations on either side of the ongoing war over drug legalization, the answer is no.
“[The video] might be embarrassing to her, but it does not put her in any legal risk,” Keith Stroup, legal counsel at the marijuana advocacy group NORML, told MTV News on Friday (December 10). “At the moment, [salvia] is not illegal in California, so even if she walked out on the street and smoked it in front of police, she couldn’t be arrested. And the video of her smoking isn’t enough to get her in trouble, because there’s no proof she wasn’t smoking tobacco.”
“Salvia is a drug of concern,” said Michael Sanders, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Agency. “We are taking steps to look further into it, but for right now, it is not a schedule-one narcotic.”
Under the Controlled Substance Act, U.S. drug policy assigns narcotics into five different “schedules” — marijuana is a schedule-one drug, as it has “a high potential for abuse … [and] no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” cocaine is a schedule two, etc. — which are determined by two federal agencies: the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration. The DEA does not currently list salvia, an herb that, when smoked, provides a powerful psychoactive punch, though several states have made it illegal. In California, where the Cyrus video was allegedly shot, it is illegal to provide salvia to minors; however, it is legal for them to possess it.
Since the Cyrus video was not only allegedly shot in California but was also done so five days after her 18th birthday (according to TMZ), the pop star wasn’t breaking any laws. Though, as Stroup put it, all of that may change soon.
“Until recently, [salvia] was perfectly legal, frankly because no one paid attention to it. It’s only after a little attention was paid to it in the media that states begin passing legislation about it,” he said. “Drug policy in this country is, by a large part, based on a social response or a political response, but the bottom line is, they don’t want people getting high.”