Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

Salvia: A 'Drug of Concern'

Salvia divinorum is not your average herb. But it is easy to grow and dangerous to ingest. And because it is easy and legal in many places to obtain, particularly over the Internet, it has developed a growing market in young adults.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified the plant -- which goes by the names Maria Pastora, Sage of the Seers, Diviner's Sage, Salvia, Sally-D, Magic Mint -- as a drug of concern.

This month, Virginia and Florida are joining a growing number of states including Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee, in adding Salvia to its controlled substance list.

A 2006 national survey on drug use by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 1.8 million people have used Salvia at least once. About 750,000 people used it in the past year. Salvia ranked second among hallucinogen usage behind Ecstasy for people between the ages of 12 and 25, with higher usage in the 18 to 25 age bracket. And it's use skews heavily male, the study shows.

Videos on YouTube back this up. Young adults smoke, drink or eat the Salvia leaves and their friends record their reactions. The friends in turn think the Salvia trip is hysterical. The videos show kids unable to stand, screaming, complaining about a lack of control or mouth pain and staring. The DEA reports "effects include perceptions of bright lights, vivid colors and shapes, as well as body movements and body or object distortions. Other effects include dysphoria, uncontrolled laughter, a sense of loss of body, overlapping realities, and hallucinations (seeing objects that are not present). Adverse physical effects may include incoordination, dizziness, and slurred speech."

So, next time you talk with your teens about drugs, this one seems to be the new weed, with harsher effects.

Have you heard your teens or college-aged kids talk about Salvia? Does the easy and legal access to this plant worry you?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 3, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Teens
Previous: To Leash or Not to Leash | Next: Raising Lefties


Cool Stacey! I'll ask my teenager where I can get some. I can't wait to try it out. Smoking pot is a great recreational activity and has many beneficial medicinal purposes. Too bad it's illegal. Haven't tried salvia yet, but it's worth a try while it's still legal.

Posted by: Buzz Collecter | July 3, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Nevermind asking my teenager. I can order an ounce of it for under 20 bucks by following the Google adds links on this page.

Tanks Stacey!

Posted by: Buzz Collecter | July 3, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

There is pretty easy access to anything these days! If I wanted pot I could obtain it from one of several homes on my block, and we live in an upper-middle class suburb, not in the city. Drugs of all sorts are readily available whereever you are and parents need to stop burying their heads in the sand and acting like it isn't a problem. Open lines of communication are key.

Posted by: Momof5 | July 3, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Momof5 - Pot has always been more readily available in the suburbs, where do you think the kids with disposable money come from?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Oh Lord. Is that that purple stuff with the long leaves? I'm pretty sure I'm growing it in my backyard. It's easy enough to get from any gardening catalog. Who knew?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

In WPST today:

Magic Mushrooms: For hundreds of years, people have consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms, saying the experience is deeply spiritual, expands their minds and profoundly alters their perspective about life. Heady claims, to say the least. But there's new scientific evidence backing them up.

SO now I guess we have to ask our kids friends parents what they grow in their herb garden, if their pool is safely secured and if they have guns. Life is so complicated. Turn on : tune out?

What a loooong strange trip its been..

Posted by: Fo3 | July 3, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

8:36: From everything I researched, this particular form of Salvia is not the one most of us get at gardening centers and grow in our yards. Here's a link to images via Google:

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 3, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Whether it's common garden sage or not, I refuse to be scared by this herb. I already have a garden full of poppies, wormwood, rue, aconitum, castor bean and tansy, all of which can be toxic or non-benign. Banning a plant because some doofuses might try to get high off of it is just silly.

Posted by: annapolis | July 3, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Is this any different than the Gov't propaganda from the 60's about marijuana? Kids will find some way to get high. Let's ban cough syrup as well! Ban my beer!

Stop blaming the things available and try to bring your kids up RIGHT. Kids will experiment whether we want them to or's a natural part of growing up. Not everybody does, of course, but how many baby boomers here can say they never did a drug labeled by the Gov't as DANGEROUS/BAD/EVIL in their past?

Posted by: Sterling Park | July 3, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Next thing I be a knowin', the govermint will ban that blade of grass that I put between my teeths by and by.

Posted by: Jed Clampett | July 3, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Paw, I hears that ya kin gits crazy in da head from lickin toads.

Posted by: Ellie May | July 3, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

There will always be something to get you high. If kids are cool with huffing and sniffing, they'll try anything. You have to stop going after the innocent plants and start parenting. Oh, and good luck with that, BTW! You have some influence, but teens are willful little stinkers.

Posted by: atb | July 3, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

momof5: I grew up in a very wealthy area - a suburb - and you could get anything you want. Those kids (yes, back then, over 20 years ago) had gobs of money - probably most of them had hundreds in their pocket at any given time (not my friends and me - we were the 'poor' kids...;). So waddaya think they were doing with that money?

And yes, most of them went on to ivy league or private colleges and fared pretty well.

Posted by: atlmom | July 3, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Ellie May, we done hung our laundry in the back yard for a reason! So hush child.

Besides, you be a-knowin' that Granny is the toad=licker in the house.

Posted by: Jed Clampett | July 3, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

its all about responsibility. Making a plant illegal is not going to stop them from using it; it'll just make it more expensive and more desirable. How about actually letting your child take advantage of a legal hallucinogen and then discuss what they experienced; explaining why they shouldnt be doing it while driving a car, swimming or on the roof.

And for those who are afraid this will replace pot because its illegal and you smoke it, dont worry. Its entirely different, and it really tires you out to the point that you have to have a nap afterwards. It feels like you have been on a long journey and your mind is exhausted. Thats a lot of downtime for a 10 minute "experience."

Posted by: DudeAbides | July 3, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Drugs are for losers....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Are you saying that Jeffrey Lebowski is a loser?

Posted by: DudeAbides | July 3, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Drugs are for losers....

Some people are so profound (not).

Posted by: Deep Thoughts | July 3, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Drugs are for losers....

Posted by: | July 3, 2008 11:02 AM

Better flush that lipitor down the commode.

Some classes of medication are over-used by seniors, the most common being benzodiazepines and other sedative-hypnotics for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the treatment of musculo-skeletal problems mainly osteoarthritis. This is a problem because benzodiazepines increase the risk of fall-related injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and possibly cognitive decline, and NSAIDs increase the risk of fatal and non-fatal gastrointestinal bleeding.

I guess it's easier to rail against exaggerated, short-term drug use by youth than it is to accept the very real problem of long-term improper drug use by the elderly.

Posted by: Ellen | July 3, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I will not do that hit of E
Thank you, but it's not for me

I will not do it at a pub
I will not do it at a club

I will not do it while I'm dancing
I will not do it while romancing
I will not chew that little pill
Its bitter taste just makes me ill
I will not do it at Vizcaya
Nor in Ibiza en la playa

Not in Mykonos nor Montreal
Not Cherry 5 nor the Black Ball
I will not do it in Palm Springs
I told you I don't like those things
I will not do it at gay pride
It makes me feel too warm inside
I would not, could not during sex
I will not do that hit of X
I will not do it with a trick
Not if I need to use my ****

Even with a bump of K
I would not do it anyway

I do not like it when I roll
Not one bit, one bit at all

I will not do a mitsubishi
I told you no, just let me be

I will not do a Calvin klein
I'd rather have a glass of wine

I will not do a microdot
They're fine for you, for me they're not
I haven't done one since the day
They were pure MDMA

Posted by: Apologies to Dr. Seuss | July 3, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Haven't we learned after XX number of years that criminalizing drugs doesn't actually work? I guess the prison populations aren't already high (ha!) enough...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I guess the prison populations aren't already high (ha!) enough...


Hey! Hey! We gotta' keep Cecilia's hubby employed!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Apologies to Dr. Suess - I love your poem!

I can't really comment on drug use. Did I experiment? Not very much given how easy it was to get. I tried a puff of marijuana once.

I think before I could get hooked into trying more, I dated a young man that supposedly dealt drugs (and potentially did them also). Surprisingly enough, he was a big influence on my life and I never touched them after I met him. I don't know why I found him to be influential. Although he was of legal drinking age, he never showed up at my doorstep drunk or stoned - which could not be said for other young men that were interested in dating me. The only thing he ever said to me was that I would regret doing drugs and he hoped I would stay away.

The irony of this young man was that my parents hated him because of his reputation but he was by far the nicest guy I dated in high school. I was much safer with him than say the guy that told my parents (and me) that he was taking to me to a movie and then went straight to make-out lane to try to get down my pants.

It is still with much sadness that I remember him as he died very young. He was maybe 25 or 26 when he died from drowning - presumably alcohol related. He was always a gentleman despite the personal demons he was fighting.

Posted by: Billie | July 3, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

If we criminalize houseplants, only criminals will have houseplants!
(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

well darn, if this isn't what I've already got in my garden, I'll have to go find some to plant!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

DudeAbides- exactly. Banning isn't a solution. Responsible informed judgements are.

Posted by: Liz D | July 3, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Damn Billie, you know how to attract all the losers, don't you?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

See how nice it is when those MM from OB don't bother us!

Posted by: OB OB Go Away! | July 3, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I think the movement to ban this shows that collectively, we have learned absolutely nothing from our many repeated experiences with banning such substances.

Posted by: Dan | July 6, 2008 4:56 AM | Report abuse

hundreds of herbs that when smoked had effects on mind and body that were INTENSE, the list of whats legal and whats not would need to grow, look around your yard, there are some there, you just need to read up on how to prepare them correctly and wow hundreds of new legal drugs...who knew?
Salvia Divinorum is just easy to prepare, thats all.
Everything we have comes from herbs...

Posted by: What if there were..... | July 9, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company