Ryan Santanna, a 21-year-old from Roosevelt Island, jumped off a 15th floor balcony to his death after smoking salvia, a legal herb, with his ex-girlfriend, she told the New York Daily News. According to the paper, the pair were on their stomachs looking over the edge, “pretending to swim like an animal,” when all of a sudden Santanna got up to jump. “He stared at me but it was like he wasn’t seeing me; it was just a blank stare,” said Benazir Balani, who was with Santanna at the time. “He just ran and hopped over the fence. He had no idea who he was, what he was doing.”
Police said Santanna had no history of mental problems, increasing the likelihood that his death could be used by New York hoping to outlaw the still legal substance, which last gained national notoriety when Miley Cyrus smoked it on camera, devolving into a giggling 18-year-old girl.
A salvia high usually lasts for around 15 minutes and is akin to hallucinating, leading to its banning in around 10 states. Like K2 and cocaine-like bath salts, the persistence of legal drugs can usually sneak by quietly until tragedy strikes, launching a community into action.
In Delaware, for instance, Brett’s law refers to the banning of salvia three months after the death of Brett Chidester, who was high on the drug. His mother continues to campaign around the country.