Just Like Marijuana, Except Less Fun and Much Less Popular

In a recent story about state legislation banning the Mexican psychedelic herb Salvia divinorum, the Associated Press reports that lawmakers are "concerned that the inexpensive and easy-to-obtain plant could become the next marijuana." The lead to a different version of the story says "state lawmakers [in Florida] are considering a ban on what is being called the new marijuana."

By whom? Presumably not by the Hit & Run commenter who called salvia "THE WORST substance of this Earth," adding, "If you want kids to stay off of drugs, give them some Salvia and tell them this is what cannabis, hash, and LSD are all like—but worse." He is not alone in his low opinion of the plant. Erowid, which provides information on a wide variety of psychoactive substances for an audience that is more Leary than leery, notes that "its effects are considered unpleasant by many people."

A.P. cites a 2006 survey finding that "just under 2 percent of people age 18 to 25...reported using salvia in the past year." By comparison, about 28 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds admit smoking marijuana in the previous year, and I'd wager a lot more of them wanted to do it again than was the case for salvia smokers. Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies tells A.P. salvia use represents "a minimal problem," notes that "it's not a party drug," and suggests that it's "not going to be extremely popular."

No drug as powerful and unpredictable as salvia will ever be "the new marijuana," even though the government is giving it a boost by banning competing products. "As soon as we make one drug illegal," Florida state Rep. Mary Brandenburg tells A.P., "kids start looking around for other drugs they can buy legally. This is just the next one." She worries that the government is pushing people toward less desirable, possibly more dangerous drugs by banning the ones they plainly prefer and suggests it should give up its vain quest to eliminate every possible intoxicant. Just kidding. Brandenburg "has introduced a bill to make possession of salvia a felony punishable by up to five years in prison."

noted the beginnings of the anti-salvia crusade a couple years ago.

[Thanks to Ananda Gupta and BakedPenguin for the tip.]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Episiarch||

    Next up: banana peels.

    I mean if you can smoke something that just gives you a headache and makes you feel stupid (for smoking it in the first place), WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?!?!?

  • ||

    She worries that the government is pushing people toward less desirable, possibly more dangerous drugs by banning the ones they plainly prefer and suggests it should give up its vain quest to eliminate every possible intoxicant. Just kidding.

    Oh, you sly fox. You totally got me on that one.

  • ||

    There's always good ol' glue.

  • economkdsgjlh||

    Gimme a second...Oh yeah! Yeah!

  • ||

    Perhaps the ban is a good idea, because it will stop use of this drug before it becomes a problem like marijuana.

  • ||

    my god it is not a problem. The people that make it a problem is the government. Pot doesn't have any negative side effects it is the best natural way of relaxing. OMG and salvia is nothing like weed, and no one is going to go and some salvia everyday.

  • ||

    I can buy it here in Kansas, and it is a little more popular in Lawerance (where KU is located).
    However, even at a college town I doubt more that 5% of the students here have done it, and the results are very mixed. The mixed results are due largely to the fact that everyone has a different experience. My brother hated it because he aid it felt like someone was pushing on him. Another friend could not stop laughing, and yet another friend just got really high. I really doubt it will ever become as popular as weed.

  • ||

    A friend of mine went into a bathroom at a party and came out refusing to talk to anyone and just left. When I tried it (multiple times) I got nothing.

  • ||

    "I really doubt it will ever become as popular as weed"

    I can't think of anything that is or ever could be...

  • ||

    Salvia. Isn't that sage? People smoke sage?

  • highnumber||

    Imagine if they British hadn't gone gaga over tea when they did. If that was just getting popular here now, they'd be banning it. Bastards. I'm having a cuppa tea right now just to stick it to the man. Then I'm off to pee in a cup for job.

  • Rhywun||

    I can't believe as many as 2 percent of these youngsters are smoking a drug I've never even heard of. Damn, I'm getting old.

  • ||

    rana,
    Yes, it's sage. A specific type but a sage none the less.

  • ||

    I've never done it, but my friends who have insist that if you drink a 6-pack of beer, then take 3-4 gravity bong hits of marijuana, and then a few g-bong hits of salvia, you get REALLY HIGH.

    Seems a little silly to me, really...

  • Episiarch||

    Sage is a different species; but it is in the same family.

  • Taktix®||

    I can't believe as many as 2 percent of these youngsters are smoking a drug I've never even heard of. Damn, I'm getting old.

    Nope, Salvia is crap, and it's just the law of supply and demand in action :)

  • Episiarch||

    I've never done it, but my friends who have insist that if you drink a 6-pack of beer, then take 3-4 gravity bong hits of marijuana, and then a few g-bong hits of salvia, you get REALLY HIGH.

    They're probably already totally baked off the weed gravity hits. Besides, drinking before smoking = asking to puke (if you drink a lot).

  • TallDave||

    Interesting, I'd only heard good things about salvia.

    Anyways, if marijuana is decriminalized that will mean no more hilarious movies like "Reefer Madness."

    Are we really prepared to accept that??

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...if you drink a 6-pack of beer, then take 3-4 gravity bong hits of marijuana, and then a few g-bong hits of salvia, you get REALLY HIGH.



    If I drank a 6-pack of beer, and took 3-4 gravity bong hits of marijuana, I wouldn't need any hits of salvia to be REALLY HIGH.

  • highnumber||

    psst, Episiarch!

    Do you want us to mail the "That Went Right Over Your Head" Award, or will you be picking it up at the central office?

    BTW, the central office is John's desk. We've taken to considering that to be the award's home.

    PS, BakedPenguin - same to you!

  • TallDave||

    Brandenburg "has introduced a bill to make possession of salvia a felony punishable by up to five years in prison."

    *** PUBLIC SERVICE NOTICE ***

    The State has Decreed that Pursuit of Happiness is No Longer A Right. To that End, the Effluents and Humors of your Body Shall be Monitored to Ensure you are not Unlawfully Pursuing Happiness (or Worse Yet, have indeed Caught It).

    That is all.

    *** END PUBLIC SERVICE NOTICE ***

  • BakedPenguin||

    Salvia strikes me as another jimson weed / nutmeg/ inhalants - a crappy, potentially dangerous high that would never be used if the WoD didn't make safer drugs harder to find and or more expensive.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Highnumber - that's what I get for posting while on Xanax.

  • Taktix®||

    Highnumber - that's what I get for posting while on Xanax.

    These are your posts.

    These are your posts on drugs.

    sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss....

    Any questions?

  • Episiarch||

    Do you want us to mail the "That Went Right Over Your Head" Award, or will you be picking it up at the central office?

    OH NOES PWNED

    Vicodin time.

  • ||

    Nutmeg is teh suck. I also don't suggest huffing freon. Smoking bananas was the 17th worse thing I've ever put in my mouth.

  • dhex||

    Salvia strikes me as another jimson weed / nutmeg/ inhalants - a crappy, potentially dangerous high that would never be used if the WoD didn't make safer drugs harder to find and or more expensive.

    well, it's not a deliriant so much as a dissociative. the unpleasantness is largely mental, and largely a sensation of general wrongness.

    interesting, but not "fun."

  • Skoal||

    I'm heavy into jenkem these days. Haven't smoked pot in months.

  • Episiarch||

    Smoking bananas was the 17th worse thing I've ever put in my mouth.

    So you've sucked 16 dicks, then.

  • Tym||

    Salvia strikes me as another jimson weed / nutmeg/ inhalants - a crappy, potentially dangerous high that would never be used if the WoD didn't make safer drugs harder to find and or more expensive.

    nutmeg is interesting but really sucks. Is it really dangerous besides that safrole is carcinogenic.

    inhalants - nitrous is not bad, ether maybe? Otherwise very dangerous.

    Morning glory seeds (LSA) are not to bad except for some nausea, like a milder LSD.

  • ||

    Epi- Actually, I was thinking of the 15 times I went down on your mom. The 16th is a bit personal and I'd rather not discuss it.

    NO is fine if your just remember breathe air once in a awhile. Sort of acts a Darwin test in that way. And balloons are better than garbage bags.

    My favorite anti-drug war argument is "Ever seen little kids spinning around and around in the playground until they fall down? That's why you'll never get rid of recreational drug use. Getting high is instinctual."

  • Jose||

    This is your brain:

    This is your brain on drugs:

    This is you brain on drugs with a side of chor1zos:

  • ||

    I thought about taking Salvia because weed was too intense for me. I'm beginning to have second-guesses.

  • ||

    Am I the only Reason reader that actually enjoys salvia? I can see why someone wouldn't, and I'd say I use it less than once a year. But I find the whole experience very funny. And, JCH, yes it is quite a bit more intense than weed.

  • ||

    I tried some purple sticky (50x) salvia while it was still legal in Illinois last year. I just want to make that fact perfectly clear cuz I, obviously, would not have done it if it was illegal. Anyway, what I experienced was "merging". I was part of the work table next to me. Then when I regained a percentage of my faculties, I thought maybe the reason I felt I was part of the work table was because I had fallen off my chair and landed against the table. So, to check if I had fallen against the table I looked down to attempt to observe the floor between the gap between myself and the table - which would indicate I'm not leaning against the table. Very clever, eh? Well it didn't work. I looked down and could not determine if I could see the floor or not, or if I was leaning against the table. That you would have to make a plan to determine if you fell out of your chair or not is an indication of the effects - very powerful if your using good salvia. The whole crazy portion of the trip was five minutes or less. During this time you are in no condition to do anything.

    A guy I know who has done nearly every drug known to man said he found it "scary" and did not want to do it again.

    I found my furst 50x experience a bit scary, but did it a couple more times with far smaller doses and with knowing what to expect. Much better.

    The good stuff is concentrated 15x or higher. Herbal salvia/sage sold on ebay is not going to do the same thing. If it doesn't give a specific number for the ratio of the extract, don't buy it. And (Josiah)for maximum effect you have to smoke it with a high temperature flame like you would get from a torch lighter.

    All that said, I would never do it now cuz that would be against Illinois law, just like speeding is.

  • The Church Lady||

    All that said, I would never do it now cuz that would be against Illinois law, just like speeding is.

    And what do you WoD doubters have to say about this moving testimony?

    Hmmmmm.

  • Pepe||

    Salvia is the worst drug i've bever taken and i've tried many. There is nothing pleasurable about it. The dissociative effects are really scary although nothing is really happening to you. It simply isn't pleasurable. It's weird not fun.

    I don't think it should be illegal on principle and, of course, making it illegal is probably only serving to make young people interested in it who never heard of it. But really, I have no desire to touch that crap ever again and few people who have tried it would either.

  • ||

    Yea, like making it illegal will prevent people from using it. Prohibition certainly hasnt worked with marijuana. What a waste of money, shouldnt the police focus on catching pedophiles and rapists instead of busting people for a harmless plant?

  • Monkey Of Fear||

    My salvia experience:
    the intensity of an LSD trip magnified several times and compressed into a ten minute span. I found it was simply too much for my brain to handle in that short time span; the incredible visual and mental distortions occurred with a rapidity that shattered my ability to cull any meaning from them. This produced fear, and a discomfort with my very existence that I have a hard time explaining - I was immobilized and made confused by every sensation. Not a pleasant experience. Not recommended. Moral of the story: smoke weed and be happy.

  • First Little Pig||

    Paul

    "shouldnt the police focus on catching pedophiles . . ."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7jVnrfoZD8

  • ||

    After reading this thread, I imagine the best use of salvia is torture, not recreation.

    Does it grow in Guantanimo?

  • ||

    Making Salvia, or any other thing that comes along, is likely a political ploy by law enforcement in order to expand the policing budget. Creating another illegal drug expands the black market and thereby expands crime.

    If our governments really cared about the children, then wouldn't we have free child care and health care like the EU. Well, at least Florida hasn't made it illegal to cary a gun w/o permit.

  • ||

    A.P. cites a 2006 survey finding that "just under 2 percent of people age 18 to 25...reported using salvia in the past year."

    Coincidentally, this is the same percentage of teenagers who mark yes to every drug on the list and then laugh when they hold it up to show their friends.

  • Chris||

    The only way Salvia is like marijuana is that many people smoke the leaves.

    The experience, however, is nothing similar.

    With pot, you can mellow out with your friends for awhile and bond. Maybe start to view life differently. But salvia removes you from your surroundings and puts you in a dream state - and there is no meaningful interaction with those around you any more than you can meaningfully interact with a sleepwalker.

    What kind of experience you have all depends on how your personality reacts to being in this state - for some it is just too frightening. Nope, this is no party drug. I really wish lawmakers and the press would get a clue to what they are talking about.

  • Sean||

    My girlfriend and I tried Salvia this summer. Bought some of the 40x extract from a headshop in my town.

    Um, well, yea.
    1.)First you feel like you weight 2 tons.
    2.) Then everything turns to plastic.
    3.)Then all your furniture morphs into dead relatives telling you to get your act together.
    4.) You talk like a retard for the following 5 minutes.

  • ||

    The effects of salvia are incredibly intense. It is easy to immediately forget that you have smoked anything; this makes the onset of the dissociative or dissembling that occurs deeply troubling to deal with. I seemed to melt into the earth, running madly around a friend's backyard pool. It was impossible to stop this motion. I seemed to be propelled by an outside entity; this then morphed into a situation I can only imagine is the sensory experience of a toe, or an eyelash: the knowledge that you are but a "part of the part of the part" rather than the entirety of what we think of as the self. The terror of the experience is intense. I also must say that I am not free of this intense terror even now, months after this incident.

    All of that said, I value the experience. The intensity of the overall sensations and the vividness of all qualia for the duration are not trivial matters. Salvia is not a drug taken to feel "good" in the same sense as marijuana might be thought of in. It is more in the class of something like Peyote or even certain high-dose LSD experiences.

    People use drugs for a thousand and one reasons. To put it glibly: the shaman is not the surfer.

  • ||

    Salvia is an INWARD trip. It puts your psyche under a microscope, deconstructs your ego, and leaves you stripped naked and alone to face your own bag of demons (whatever they may be). It permanently alters the way that you process "reality". Its disassociative nature is shocking, it strips you of all self-awareness and knowledge that you're "on something", and time stands still in a realm where reality is a fleeting thought and can you feel like you face the desolate island of infinity for eternity.

    NOT a "fun" drug. It should only be used by those who are NOT seeking a high, and who are seeking introspective thought or pushing their religious/philosophical envelope in a responsible manner, in a controlled environment.

    Anyone who equates this with a "high" is full of $hit. It's anti-addictive, and anti-social. Lawmakers don't have a clue what this substance actually *does*, they just generalize and demonize.

    Maybe with more accurate reporting, such as we have here, the REAL truth would get out there, and it would be left alone.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement