Drug Policy

Warning: This Drug May Cause a Very Gentle Relaxing


Last week The New York Times ran a surprisingly sane story about Salvia divinorum, the psychedelic herb that's been banned or restricted in 13 states. The lead departs from the usual approach of anti-drug propaganda drug policy journalism by describing a salvia trip that features "convulsive laughter" provoked by a vision of "little green men" in a boat, as opposed to psychosis, murder, self-mutilation, blindness from staring at the sun too long, or an accidental plunge from a multistory building. Another salvia user is "transported into a dream state..as if drifting down a rain forest river" with "a beatific smile spread lightly across his face." He describes the experience as "just a very gentle letting go, a very gentle relaxing." The Times is appropriately skeptical of claims that salvia can lead to suicide and sums up the drug's risks this way:

Though research is young and little is known about long-term effects, there are no studies suggesting that salvia is addictive or its users prone to overdose or abuse. Indeed, a salvia experience can be so intense, and at times so unsettling, that many try it just once, and even devotees use it sparingly.

Reports of salvia-related emergency room admissions are virtually nonexistent, likely because its effects typically vanish in just a few minutes.

The article, by Kevin Sack and Brent McDonald, notes that scientists are worried about legal restrictions on salvia, which could impede "promising research into its possible medical uses," such as "treatment of addiction, depression, and pain." Except for the obligatory reference to salvia's alleged street names ("Sally D and Magic Mint"), the piece is quite different from what we've come to expect when mainstream news outlets cover drug fads.

In May I noted another refreshingly calm salvia article in Newsweek. Other reason coverage of salvia here, here, and here.

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  1. Indeed, a salvia experience can be so intense, and at times so unsettling, that many try it just once, and even devotees use it sparingly.

    BINGO! This is why the drug warriors aren’t unleashing the ‘hooked the first time you try it and inevitable death’ rhetoric on salvia. It’s popularity is very limited. Most people don’t find Salvia all that pleasant.

    When it comes to recreational drug use, I follow the Paul McCartney doctrine: If it’s not fun, then why do it?

  2. Jacob,

    Don’t you remember? Sometimes an OD or even death is necessary to snap drug users back into reality and look objectively at their drug use.

  3. I tried it and did not enjoy it. I don’t get the allure of the stuff.

  4. Sweet Jesus, BDB! You don’t have to do any drug thrust in your face from your babysitter! Just say NO!

  5. While on a salvia trip I was able to successfully map consciousness according to the tree of life and experience the eminent oneness of Kether, across the Abyss, a being of pure awarness before the supernal triangle of the Divine Intelligence, or indeed before the reflection of Wisdom. It was an incredibly…mathematical trip.

    I can see how this drug is a danger to humanity.

  6. It is good to see this in a big name periodical like the NYT.

    Sadly that it is not, nor will ever be a popular drug hasn’t stopped “freedom loving” Americans from making it illegal to sell or possess. Sometimes people are irrational. Sex, Drugs and Terrorism seem to be the big ones of late.

  7. I’ll stick with alcohol, blow, and painkillers. However, lunch trips have long been rumored but never materialized until this.

  8. Blow sucks, Epi. 😛

  9. Blow sucks, Epi. 😛

    You just haven’t done enough in one sitting. I’m thinking Tony Montana levels should do it for you.

  10. According to what I know about blow, and what friends have told me, you’re likely correct. Sadly, if I could roll like that, I’d probably be buying computer hardware with my cash instead of rock star drugs.

    Well, fuck, if I were rich enough, sure, I’d buy a pile of blow. But it’d have to be good blow.

  11. My fellow Americans I must warn you. I must warn you of a scourge creeping into our homes and schools. This scourge goes by the name of “earl grey tea”. This mind altering herb is known for its sedative properties. Citizens from house spouses to business managers purchase earl grey from local dealers. Doing so is as easy as buying sugar and cream. Sometimes, they spice up a diner party by serving it after the meal. Other tea addicts indulge their addictions in solitude, early in the morning or late at night. Some will even leave their desks at work to make up a batch in the company kitchen. This herb has even found its way into our schools. PTA members will quietly sip earl grey tea in the middle of a meeting. We must act now before we are all doomed!!!


  12. But it’d have to be good blow.

    Well, it always does. Otherwise, don’t even bother with it.

  13. Yaarrrrrrr
    I be wantin me some of yer salvia me laddie!

  14. If it’s not fun, then why do it?

    utility? novelty? peak experiences?

    fun is fun, but it’s not always fun.

  15. I’m buying a fucking garbage-bag full of this shit.

  16. Yaarrrrrrr
    I be wantin me some of yer salvia me laddie!

    Reinmoose: Tomorrow is National Talk Like a Child-Molester-Who-Just-Pulled-Up-In-A-Van-Next-To-A-Daycare-Center Day.

  17. I’m buying a fucking garbage-bag full of this shit.

    They will have to come up with a new crime for you.

    “Possession with intent to corner the market and establish a monopoly”?

    Have we just discovered where drug law and corporate law intersects? No, that would be blow, wouldn’t it.

  18. Jaime Kelly,

    How the hell do you mark that down on a calendar?

  19. You forgot to mention the proprioceptive hallucinations… I had to get off the couch to keep up with my body parts which felt like they were flying, detached, in space, upwards and to the right. A very weird feeling, to be sure.

    I liken it to a rollercoaster(which is funny, because the aforementioned effects make it feel like one) – you’re up, you go flying around, and you’re back down on the ground thinking ‘what the hell just happened to me’. Afterwards there was a bit of calmness, and absolutely no desire to repeat the experience.

  20. As soon as I clicked on the link to the NY Times article, what comes up? An “Anti-Drug” advertisement! When am I finally going to start seeing the “Anti-Dumb” ads? 15 years in prison for Salvia Divinorum in Florida, home of the electric chair. Screw it, give ’em the death sentence, that’ll stop ’em real good!

    I am getting SO very sick of living in the southeast! Here in Georgia, we’re “the home of the bible and punishment.” We’ll certainly have to best Florida as far as punishment for Salvia “crimes” goes.

    Unsurprisingly, these legislators have never used Salvia, since the bible says you can’t use drugs (other than alcohol.) Oh, and it came from MEXICO? Sounds a lot like Cannabis, to me… Thanks for letting me rant…

  21. If it’s not fun, then why do it?

    I ask myself this of mountain climbers as well. The answer is always, “because it’s there”.

    Well, no shit but it doesn’t mean you have to summit.

  22. Kwix,

    Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.
    Bruce: Then why steal them?
    Alfred: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
    Bruce: The bandit in Burma, did you catch him?
    Alfred: Yes.
    Bruce: How?
    Alfred: We burned the forest down.

  23. PSYOP,

    since the bible says you can’t use drugs (other than alcohol)

    I am not a man of the book but I am pretty damned sure this is not accurate. In fact, the only restrictions I have found are on “too much strong drink”.

    Indeed, Genesis 1:29

    And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

  24. to you it shall be for meat.

    The Bible! It’s a cook book! A COOK BOOK!

  25. A little red cook book.

  26. Well, fuck, if I were rich enough, sure, I’d buy a pile of blow. But it’d have to be good blow.

    Just like airfare and long-distance telephony, the price has come way down from 70’s or 80’s when it was glamorized (or demonized) as a drug of the rich and famous. Of course I wasn’t exactly doing any in the 70’s or 80’s so this is from what I’ve read and heard — perhaps someone with direct experience can confirm. At any rate, today anyone with a job (and maybe even a few without one) can afford a little blow now and then.

    However, as an alternative, you can always try crushing and snorting some methylphenidate (Ritalin). It produces a high strikingly similar to coke with a couple advantages: You know it will be consistently high quality and never laced or excessively cut with anything. If you have a prescription and insurance it is dirt-cheap. And, it isn’t illegal (assuming you have the script) to carry the pills making it safe and convenient to take with you. Oh, and as it’s not a topical anesthetic like cocaine, it won’t give you that numbness in the back of your throat that some people find unpleasant.

    I don’t know if the brand name stuff is easy to crush, but for sure the generic tablets crush down to a nice white powder that looks like, as well as works like, coke.

    Or so I’ve heard.

  27. Kwix, you’re right. I was being facetious in a poor attempt at levity. I know many people who believe that the bible states that very thing. Thanks for reading and responding to my comment, though!

  28. NCTPTG,

    I’ve heard same, but never really thought about it. Sounds interesting, though.

  29. However, as an alternative, you can always try crushing and snorting some methylphenidate (Ritalin). It produces a high strikingly similar to coke with a couple advantages: You know it will be consistently high quality and never laced or excessively cut with anything

    My cousin got some for us to try. Not that I would actually, you know, do that. I’m just theoretically looking forward to it.

  30. This article neglected to point out, probably didn’t even research it, but the first salvia study, involving actual people, not rats, was completed this spring. Initial results prove it causes depression and studies are ongoing. What part of that do the idiot savant salvia users not understand???? This so called “relaxing herb” is screwing up your brain. Wake up losers!

  31. Funny how they have to still sensationalize it:

    describing a salvia trip that features “convulsive laughter” provoked by a vision of “little green men”

    hmmmmm, that’s one lucky user.

    a salvia experience can be so intense…

    yeah, as in intense headache!

    Now, if the times could run similar stories about drugs that people actually like to do, I’d give them some credit.

  32. Steven R. –

    Can you provide a link to the study? I tried a quick google but didn’t find anything.

    In my experience, all effects are gone in an hour and a half, provided you’ve smoked it. I’m generally sensitive to aftereffects, having had negative experiences with several other drugs at times.

  33. So people want to find ways of transitioning into limited periods of retardation… big deal! I don’t understand the reasoning behind banning it, especially if it isn’t addicting.

  34. I watched a dear friend smoke, from the same batch of salvia from which I was graced my “tree of life” trip, roughly a quarter ounce of salvia divinorum. It gave him a headache and make him nauseous. It made him so sick, in fact, that he had to kill the nausea with marijuana, which also managed to get him high, unlike the salvia.

    Then I forced him to watch Meet the Feebles. I’m surprised we’re still friends. 😀

  35. Dear fucking God, I need to learn to use the fucking preview button again. I manage to make myself sound like a barely literate dolt when I neglect the preview function. >_


  37. Then I forced him to watch Meet the Feebles. I’m surprised we’re still friends. 😀

    I prefer to convince people to watch Dead Alive. The lawnmower bit really finishes them off.


  39. “Your mother ate my dog!”

    “Not all of it.”

  40. jtuf, you can have my Earl Grey when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!


  41. I stand by my earlier posts about Salvia being the worst substance I’ve ever tried. It’s no LSD (which kicks ass, folks!). It sure ain’t no quality hash, either.

    NCTPTG, what is the point of snorting the Ritalin? Is snorting it that much more intense than ingesting it by swallowing? I’ve never taken Ritalin, only Adderall XR (which makes no sense to snort since it is extended release). Does snorting make that much of a difference?

    I know it can with say Xaanax or Valium.

    LSD and cannabis, folks. That is the ticket.

  42. Episiarch | September 19, 2008, 1:43pm | #

    I’ll stick with alcohol, blow, and painkillers

    Epi? Blow? Really? ;-}

    “Why would you want to do cocaine?”

    “It’s great! It intensifies your personality.”

    “Yeah, but what if you’re an asshole?”

    If you like blow AND painkillers, I recommend you just move on up to snowballs. It worked out well for Belushi.*

    *Sez the hypocrite who used to buy it buy the 8-ball in the 80’s* ;-}

  43. LSD and cannabis, folks. That is the ticket

    Don’t waste your time on LSD if ‘shrooms or decent quality peyote are available.

    Also, Don’t waste your time mixing LSD and cannabis (anecdotal)…you just find yourself smoking J after J cuz it tastes good.

  44. Hey Kant,

    Shrooms have nuttin’ on the L, my man. I’ve taken shrooms plenty, including a bunch in Amsterdam over two trips (pun intendend, HA!) Although the I found the “philosopher stones” pretty excellent (as a philosophy major back in college, I found the name quite accurate), I simply prefer LSD.

    Music on L is just so damn good.

    You, sir, are 100% correct that a L trip can use up all your weed, though. Not really a problem since finding L has become damn near impossible for me, given the loss of a connection who decided to become a fucking crackead asshole.

    Episiarch, I enjoy your comments very much. Please don’t stop posting.

  45. NCTPTG, what is the point of snorting the Ritalin? Is snorting it that much more intense than ingesting it by swallowing? … Does snorting make that much of a difference?

    No comment,

    Absolutely. It’s a huge difference. I was completely underwhelmed by taking Ritalin orally, so much so that I had a bunch of it sitting around that I never used until a girl I know suggested I try snorting it — and that I let her snort some too. Best advice ever… well ok, not exactly but you know what I mean.

    As for Adderall/amphetamines, the XR stuff is a little too XR for me. I prefer just generic dextroamphetamine tablets taken orally. No need to snort those — good high and while much less intense than coke/snorted ritalin, it lasts a lot longer. That and it’ll make you want to clean your house. 🙂

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