Skip to comments.Is salvia the next marijuana?
Posted on 03/11/2008 8:21:55 AM PDT by Clint N. Suhks
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - On Web sites touting the mind-blowing powers of salvia divinorum, come-ons to buy the hallucinogenic herb are accompanied by warnings: "Time is running out! ... stock up while you still can."
That's because salvia is being targeted by lawmakers concerned that the inexpensive and easy-to-obtain plant could become the next marijuana. Eight states have already placed restrictions on salvia, and 16 others, including Florida, are considering a ban or have previously.
"As soon as we make one drug illegal, kids start looking around for other drugs they can buy legally. This is just the next one," said Florida state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, who has introduced a bill to make possession of salvia a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Some say legislators are overreacting to a minor problem, but no one disputes that the plant impairs judgment and the ability to drive.
Native to Mexico and still grown there, salvia divinorum is generally smoked but can also be chewed or made into a tea and drunk.
Called nicknames like Sally-D, Magic Mint and Diviner's Sage, salvia is a hallucinogen that gives users an out-of-body sense of traveling through time and space or merging with inanimate objects. Unlike hallucinogens like LSD or PCP, however, salvia's effects last for a shorter time, generally up to an hour.
No known deaths have been attributed to salvia's use, but it was listed as a factor in one Delaware teen's suicide two years ago.
"Parents, I would say, are pretty clueless," said Jonathan Appel, an assistant professor of psychology and criminal justice at Tiffin University in Ohio who has studied the emergence of the substance. "It's much more powerful than marijuana."
Salvia's short-lasting effects and fact that it is currently legal may make it seem more appealing to teens, lawmakers say. In the Delaware suicide, the boy's mother told reporters that salvia made his mood darker but he justified its use by citing its legality. According to reports, the autopsy found no traces of the drug in his system, but the medical examiner listed it as a contributing cause.
Mike Strain, Louisiana's Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner and former legislator, helped his state in 2005 become the first to make salvia illegal, along with a number of other plants. He said the response has been largely positive.
"I got some hostile e-mails from people who sold these products," Strain said. "You don't make everybody happy when you outlaw drugs. You save one child and it's worth it."
An ounce of salvia leaves sells for around $30 on the Internet. A liquid extract from the plant, salvinorin A, is also sold in various strengths labeled "5x" through "60x." A gram of the 5x strength, about the weight of a plastic pen cap, is about $12 while 60x strength is around $65. And in some cases the extract comes in flavors including apple, strawberry and spearmint.
Web sites such as Salviadragon.com tout the product with images like a waterfall and rainbow and include testimonials like "It might sound far fetched, but I experience immortality."
Among those who believe the commotion over the drug is overblown is Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit group that does research on psychedelic drugs and whose goal is to develop psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medication.
"I think the move to criminalize is a misguided response to a very minimal problem," Doblin said.
Doblin said salvia isn't "a party drug," "tastes terrible" and is "not going to be extremely popular." He disputes the fact teens are its main users and says older users are more likely.
"It's a minor drug in the world of psychedelics," he said.
Moreover, it's hard to say how widespread the use of salvia is. National and state surveys on drug use don't include salvia, and because it is legal in most states, law enforcement officials don't compile statistics, either.
San Diego State University last year surveyed more than 1,500 students and found that 4 percent of participants reported using salvia in the past year.
Brandenburg's bill would make salvia and its extract controlled substances in the same class as marijuana and LSD.
Florida state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, whose committee plans to study the salvia bill Tuesday, said the drug should be criminalized.
"I'd rather be at the front edge of preventing the dangers of the drug than waiting until we are the 40th or more," she said.
Paging all Liberaltarians!
The drug war is out of hand. The government is basically teaching otherwise ignorant teenagers to seek out and use drugs. I saw a commercial the other day that pretty much said, “Hey kids! Want to get high? Check out your parents’ medicine cabinet!” Scary stuff. If they were serious about winning it then they should be talking about securing the border.
What? Oh. Well, that's different. Nevermind.
I don’t care if someone grows a plant. Neither did the founding fathers. Neither should you.
A’la the movie “Medicine Man”
Other nations already banned “Salvia divinorum” but not the one you use in the kitchen (”Salvia officinalis”). Germany banned it on Feb. 15 this year.
Is dat da Doo-Daa Man?
Looks like he’d rather farm than go on tour with Skynrd.
“a party drug,” “tastes terrible” and is “not going to be extremely popular
Doesn’t that cover every drug and alcohol. This guy is clueless.
I’ve used google news to look at salvia articles. It looks like the governmnent is trying to cause a problem worth regulating, by providing free advertising for the plant.
Did you know that teens can get cheap dope by mail? followed with dosing advice and use techniques, often with links to sources.
Once it becomes Schedule 1, I bet that there are many police officers who cannot tell S divinorum from any other salvia, but will be looking to make a bust, in someones garden.
Meanwhile all the clever dopers will have their plants propagating from cuttings, waiting for the price to hit $90/oz.
It's Mr. Natural
LOL. Truckin’, man, truckin’.
I first heard about salvia on a late night drive with Art Bell. It was so weird, it was like he was in the car with me the whole time, man.
Freaked me out totally.
Elecampane? Rue? Catnip? Datura?
The real tragedy is, there will be a huge price spike for salvia, which will prevent people who *really need* to grow it from being able to afford it. /sarc
But since he found nicotine in his system, he listed the true cause of death as secondhand tobacco smoke. < /s>
It's a non-problem. It's something that will send you on about a fifteen minute trip one time and maybe never affect you again even if you try to use it. Some people never have a reaction at all.
Our government... all they want is all the power and all our money.
Okay, I’m assuming it’s not the same kind of salvia that landscapers plant in large amounts, when they want lots of red or blue flowers.
I used to have one of those fuzzy footprint stickers on my bedroom door when I was a kid too. Raised by a pack of wild hippies in the seventies, my parents didn't know what to think when I rebelled and became a conservative Christian! faroutman
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