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Club13 Salvia Divinorum Infomation Vault..

Below is Everything you need to know about Salvia Divinorum, including latest news, useage, effects

Salvia Divinorum Legal Status:

Salvia Divinorum is being outlawed very fast since the emergance of the YouTube Salvia trip videos. States are making salvia a controlled substance and calling it a "dangerous drug" similar to LSD.. Currently Salvia Divinorum is illegal in the following States: DE, FL, IL, LA, MO, ND, OK, KS, TN, & VA. Please check back for the latest updates.

What is Salvia Divinorum:

Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner’s Sage, ska María Pastora, Sage of the Seers, or simply by the genus name, Salvia, is a psychoactive herb which can induce strong dissociative effects. It is a member of the sage genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family. The Latin name Salvia divinorum literally translates to “sage of the seers”.

Salvia divinorum has a long continuing tradition of use as an entheogen by indigenous Mazatec shamans, who use it to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. The plant is found in isolated, shaded, and moist plots in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grows to well over a meter in height, has large green leaves, and hollow square stems with occasional white and purple flowers. It is thought to be a cultigen.

Its primary psychoactive constituent is a diterpenoid known as salvinorin A potent κ-opioid receptor agonist. Salvinorin A is unique in that it is the only naturally occurring substance known to induce a visionary state this way. Salvia divinorum can be chewed, smoked, or taken as a tincture to produce experiences ranging from uncontrollable laughter to much more intense and profoundly altered states. The duration is much shorter than for some other more well known psychedelics; the effects of smoked salvia typically last for only a few minutes. The most commonly reported after-effects include an increased feeling of insight and improved mood, and a sense of calmness and increased sense of connection with nature—though much less often it may also cause dysphoria (unpleasant or uncomfortable mood). Salvia divinorum is not generally understood to be toxic or addictive. As a κ-opioid agonist, it may have potential as an analgesic and as therapy for drug addictions.

Salvia divinorum has become increasingly well-known and more widely available in modern culture. The rise of the Internet since the 1990s has seen the growth of many businesses selling live salvia plants, dried leaves, extracts, and other preparations. During this time medical experts and accident and emergency rooms have not been reporting cases that suggest particular health concerns, and police have not been reporting it as a significant issue with regard to public order offences. Yet Salvia divinorum has attracted increasing attention from the media and some lawmakers.

Media stories generally raise alarms over salvia’s legal status, headlining, for example, with not necessarily well-supported comparisons to LSD. Parental concerns are raised by focus on salvia’s use by younger teens—the emergence of YouTube videos purporting to depict its use being an area of particular concern in this respect. The isolated and controversial case of Brett Chidester, a 17-year-old Delaware student who purchased salvia some four months prior to committing suicide in January 2006, has received continued attention. Salvia divinorum remains legal in most countries and, within the United States, legal in the majority of states. However, some have called for its prohibition. Most proposed bills have not made it into law, with motions having been voted down in committee, failed, died, or otherwise stalled. Other more recent bills are as yet still at the early proposal stage. There have not been any publicised prosecutions of anti-salvia laws in the few countries and states where it has been made illegal.

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Salvia Divinorum Ingestion:

Traditional methods

Mazatec shamans crush the leaves to extract leaf juices from about 20 (about 50g) to 80 (about 200g) or more fresh leaves. They usually mix these juices with water to create an infusion or ‘tea’ which they drink to induce visions in ritual healing ceremonies.

Modern methods

Salvia divinorum is becoming more widely known about and used in modern culture. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual US based survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for 2006 estimated that about 1.8 million persons aged 12 or older had used Salvia divinorum in their lifetime, of which approximately 750,000 had done so in that year.

Dry leaves can be smoked in a pipe, but most users prefer the use of a water pipe to cool the smoke. The temperature required to release salvinorin from the plant material is quite high (about 240°C). A regular flame will work, but the direct application of something more intense, such as the flame produced from a butane torch lighter, is often preferred.

Many people find that untreated dried salvia leaf produces unnoticeable or only light effects. More concentrated preparations or extracts, which may be smoked instead of natural strength leaves, have become widely available. The enhanced leaf is often described by a number followed by an x (such as “5x,” “10x,” etc). The multiplication factors are generally indicative of the relative amounts of leaf used in preparation. The numbers therefore may also be roughly indicative of the relative concentration of the active principle salvinorin A, but the measure should not be taken as absolute. Potency will depend on the naturally varying strength of the untreated leaf used in preparing the extract, as well as the efficiency of the extraction process itself. Extracts reduce the overall amount of smoke that needs to be inhaled, thus facilitating more powerful experiences.


The method of chewing the leaves may also be employed. However, salvinorin A is generally considered to be inactive when orally ingested, as the chemical is effectively deactivated by the gastrointestinal system. Therefore, the ‘quid’ of leaves is held in the mouth as long as possible in order to facilitate absorption of the active constituents through the oral mucosa. Chewing consumes more of the plant than smoking, and produces a longer-lasting experience.

Using a tincture

Less commonly, some may ingest salvia in the form of a tincture. This is administered sublingually, usually with the aid of a glass dropper. It may be taken diluted with water just before use, which may slightly reduce the intensity of its effects, but can also serve to lessen or avoid a stinging sensation in the mouth caused by the presence of alcohol. Tinctures vary in potency, and the effects can range from inducing a mild meditative state to bringing about a more intense visionary one. Club13 sells liquid salvia.

Duration of effect

If salvia is smoked the main effects are experienced quickly. The most intense ‘peak’ is reached within a minute or so and lasts for about 1-5 minutes, followed by a gradual tapering back. At 5-10 minutes, less intense yet still noticeable effects typically persist, but giving way to a returning sense of the everyday and familiar until back to recognizable baseline after about 15 to 20 minutes.

Chewing the leaf makes the effects come on more slowly, over a period of 10 to 20 minutes, the experience then lasting from another 30 minutes up to one and a half hours.

When taken as a tincture the effects and duration are similar to other methods of oral ingestion, though may be significantly more intense, depending on the potency of the extract.

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Immediate effects from Salvia Divinorum:

Psychedelic experiences are necessarily somewhat subjective and variations in reported effects are to be expected. Aside from individual reported experiences there has been a limited amount of published work summarising the effects. D.M. Turner’s book “Salvinorin—The Psychedelic Essence of Salvia Divinorum” quotes Daniel Siebert’s summarisation, mentioning that the effects may include:

* Uncontrollable laughter
* Past memories, such as revisiting places from childhood memory
* Sensations of motion, or being pulled or twisted by forces
* Visions of membranes, films and various two-dimensional surfaces
* Merging with or becoming objects
* Overlapping realities, such as the perception of being in several locations at once

A survey of salvia users found that 38% described the effects as unique. 23% said the effects were like yoga, meditation or trance.

Media reporters rarely venture to take salvia for themselves but one firsthand journalistic account has been published in the UK science magazine New Scientist:

“ the salvia took me on a consciousness-expanding journey unlike any other I have ever experienced. My body felt disconnected from ‘me’ and objects and people appeared cartoonish, surreal and marvellous. Then, as suddenly as it had began, it was over. The visions vanished and I was back in my bedroom. I spoke to my ‘sitter’—the friend who was watching over me, as recommended on the packaging—but my mouth was awkward and clumsy. When I attempted to stand my coordination was off. Within a couple of minutes, however, I was fine and clear-headed, though dripping with sweat. The whole experience had lasted less than 5 minutes.”

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Latest Salvia Divinorum News:

(Updated Weekly)

Facts About Salvia

It's been used as an herbal remedy for centuries by Native Americans and is from the same plant family as mint and sage, so why do some Kentucky lawmakers want to make it illegal?

It's a drug you've probably never heard of, but your kids may have and chances are they have seen the videos on YouTube.

It's called salvia divornum and right now it's legal in Kentucky.

"It's something I just became aware of in the last year," says Will Coursey a State Representative who learned about salvia from a mother whose 16 year-old son used it.

Coursey is sponsoring a bill which would make growing, selling or possessing salvia a crime.

Ginny Saville owns Botany Bay in Lexington. She's also smoked salvia and knows first hand it's powerful effects.

"I didn't find it pleasant…I thought it was terrifying."

The drug's intense hallucinations are short lived only about five minutes.

"But it's what people do when they're on the drug," Dr. Ryan Stantion with the UK Emergency Department tells us.

At least one person has died while on salvia, but what's even scarier to doctors is, "you're taking something that science really knows very little in terms of side effects and problems," says Dr. Stanton.

Which means there's no way to know what long term use will do.

"There is some theory that there is a possibility of long term psychosis," says Dr. Stanton, "paranoia…kind of a permanent disassociation with reality."

But Saville who favors regulation instead of a ban, says chronic use of salvia also isn't reality.

"When people get that really good dose in them they generally won't do it again they don't like it."

The question facing legislators is do they stop more people from trying this ancient herb or do they want salvia to vanish from Kentucky, like the hallucinations it causes.

The salvia bill made it out of committee and is ready to be presented to the full house for debate. If it becomes law, Kentucky would be just the 11th state to ban salvia.


North Carolina may ban hallucinogenic herb Salvia

For years, college students have used the hallucinogenic herb for a cheap – and legal – thrill without attracting much attention. But with hundreds of online videos showing people smoking Salvia and dissolving into fits of laughter and hallucination, North Carolina is considering joining 14 other states that have outlawed it.

A bill proposed in the legislature last week would make Salvia a Schedule I drug, equivalent to heroin or LSD.

State Sen. Bill Purcell, a Laurinburg Democrat, said he has no evidence that the herb is being widely abused, but he is concerned about anecdotal reports of people who became violent or suicidal while using it.

"Methamphetamine got out of control before we did anything about that," said Purcell, a retired pediatrician. "I'm hoping we can do something sooner this time."

A member of the mint family, Salvia was traditionally used in religious rituals by the Mazatecs Indians of Mexico. It first became popular in the United States in the mid-1990s under names such as Magic Mint or Purple Sticky and can be found in head shops in Raleigh and Chapel Hill for as cheap as $14.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration currently regards Salvia as a "drug of concern" and is studying it. In the past few years, states such as California, Florida and Virginia have banned it outright, while Louisiana and Tennessee have restricted its consumption.


Legislators fight to ban sale of hallucinogenic drug salvia

Gillian Zwengler

Students looking to meet Lucy in the sky with Diamond’s legal cousin may be out of luck if a proposed salvia divinorum sale ban passes.

Boston City Council pushed for a ban on sale of the psychoactive substance, which is currently legal in Massachusetts, in a public hearing held on Tuesday, calling it dangerous and a possible gateway drug.

“Clearly this drug has serious hallucinogenic effects on individuals,” Rep. Vinny deMacedo (D-Plymouth) said.

DeMacedo has been spearheading a legislative campaign since last year that would ban the sale of salvia in Boston.

The drug, sold in herbal form, is available for legal purchase at local head shops. It can be chewed or smoked to induce a high.

Salvia “induces a variety of effects, including disassociation, the feeling as if your mind is disconnected from your body,” Dr. Sharon Levy of Children’s Hospital Boston said in support of deMacedo and the City Council’s proposal.

Salvia is beginning to gain popularity, especially among young adults, deMacedo said.

The drug is currently unregulated in most of Massachusetts, but West Bridgewater banned the sale of the drug in April 2008.

Councilor Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park) backed deMacedo’s plan to prohibit the sale of salvia.

“I believe we have a responsibility to step up to the plate and try to regulate salvia,” Consalvo said. “We can get ahead of the curb and be proactive instead of reactive.”

YouTube videos of teenagers using salvia are evidence of the drug’s potential dangers, both Consalvo and deMacedo said.

“In the videos you can see people trying to eat their phones or bags,” deMacedo said. “In that window of time [when you are hallucinating], you could do something to harm yourself, not to mention the long-term effects salvia could have on your brain.”

Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) questioned why anyone would want to induce a hallucinogenic experience.

“There are people who say that anytime you ban something you make it more desirable,” she said. “I would suggest that as parents, we try to do what’s best for our children, and as legislators, we should try to create the safest environment for the people who live here.”

Boston Police Department Lieutenant General Stephen Mead lent his support to the salvia ban.

“My experience with salvia is that it’s part of the drug culture,” he said. “[BPD] supports banning it in Boston.”

When the council opened up the discussion to the public, some accused the councilors of “reacting out of fear,” claiming salvia is “introspective” and “lets you see things you don’t normally see.”

Northeastern University professor John Swain said salvia is “amazingly nontoxic and has no evidence of being addictive.”

“It’s important for people to know the truth,” Swain said. “It’s a disservice to the public to lump salvia with drugs like cocaine and heroin.”

Emerson College sophomore Paul Davenport, who said he disagreed with the proposed ban, admitted to using the drug in an interview with the Daily Free Press.

“I’ve used it a few times,” he said. “It’s not addictive at all. After I used it last semester, I never wanted to use it again. It’s five to 10 minutes where you don’t know where you are.”

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Same approach, same bad results:

Kentucky has a huge drug problem that has filled our prisons and jails to the limit, and there's evidence a popular hallucinogenic but legal herb is becoming the latest gateway to abuse of more serious drugs.

One response to that set of facts is before The General Assembly, a bill to criminalize possession, cultivation or trafficking in Salvia divinorum.

Another would be to look at that same set of facts and say it's time to try something new.

After all, after more than three decades of criminalizing drugs, there's not much to show for it except more drug abuse. And at great cost to us all. Consider that the budget for the department of corrections, which operates state prisons, has risen about $100 million since 2005 to about $450 million in the current year.

Meanwhile, county jails, where people prosecuted under the proposed Salvia misdemeanors would be held, are overcrowded and breaking local budgets. County jails exceeded their official capacity of 15,667 by about 2,000 and accounted for $244 million in expenditures, according to a 2006 report by the state auditor.

Although counties get some reimbursement from the state and federal governments for housing prisoners, jails are truly breaking the budgets of many counties.

Fear alone shouldn't be the test for adding a drug to the list of those that send people to jail. There must be evidence a drug presents a real danger to those who use it and to society.

John Mendelson, a physician, pharmacologist and leading national researcher on Salvia, said the effects of using it remain unclear and there are no reports of trips to the emergency room by users, traffic accidents caused by its use or of overdoses involving it. "We don't have a lot of evidence that Salvia is harmful," he told reporter Valarie Honeycutt Spears. No hard evidence presented about Salvia's dangers in a committee hearing yesterday but the bill sailed through anyway.

A co-sponsor of the bill, former attorney general and current House Speaker Greg Stumbo, explained his support by calling it a gateway drug that leads to using harder, more dangerous drugs.

Oddly, Stumbo and others seem less troubled by tobacco, a proven gateway drug widely used and perfectly legal in Kentucky. Not only is there no rush to make tobacco use, production and trade illegal, the General Assembly is digging in its heels to avoid taxing the weed enough to discourage young people from starting on it.

Unlike Salvia, we know tobacco poses serious health risks for users in addition to opening the door to other drugs.

Why not treat Salvia like tobacco, tax it a little and restrict purchase to people over 18? A still better idea is to heavily tax both, a policy that would discourage use and help the treasury without adding to the population behind bars.


Enter Club13

Not Necessarily Stoned, But Beautiful
After Massachusetts' leap forward voting to decriminalize marijuana, why take a step backward with salvia divinorum?
Story and photos by Mark Roessler

My first experience with an hallucinogenic substance was decades before I'd ever heard of salvia divinorum or the recent efforts to criminalize it.

Though, at that time, I didn't have the sense or experience to know what I was getting into, I was with people I trusted in a safe, comfortable environment, and I had an immensely pleasurable experience.

After the drug had been administered, I remember lying back in the Naugahyde recliner and staring at a poster featuring a collage of 1930s movie stars. Before I could focus on any one image, the previously bland music they were playing became a thumping roar. Clark Gable, Boris Karloff and Judy Garland began to swirl, and even though my eyes were open, I began to see stars. Millions of brilliant points of light shot past me as if I was going into hyperdrive, and then my body began to lift from the chair and elongate. Like a rubber band powering a propeller in a toy airplane, my legs felt as if they were twisting about time after time, wrapping themselves into a coiled rope.

I was mesmerized by the sights, sounds and feelings I was experiencing, and the only interruption was the occasional request I heard from my handlers to "open big."

I was eight years old, getting my first fillings at the family dentist. I'd been told the stuff I was breathing was laughing gas, but though it was fun, I didn't even giggle. I was in awe, and when it was over, I wanted more. Upon returning home, I asked my mom if I could get some for Christmas.

In the past few weeks, there has been a strange hypocrisy at work on Beacon Hill: Massachusetts voters have overwhelmingly decided in favor of decriminalizing marijuana in amounts of an ounce or less, while at the same time lawmakers are debating outlawing salvia divinorum. Currently salvia is legal and can be purchased locally. It's part of the sage family, like mint, but it's the only member of that genus known to have mind-altering qualities when consumed.

Like pot, salvia is a botanical—a flowering plant that grows in the wild. Both, when harvested and dried, can be smoked or eaten to produce a state that is similarly euphoric (for some users) but as different as Vermont and Texas in the experiences they provide. Like the laughing gas I took, salvia, when smoked, affects all the senses of the person taking it. The height of intoxication only lasts five or 10 minutes, but in that time, the imbiber is largely incapacitated and not at all good company. Like all drugs, results may vary depending on the user, but some who take it have visions, some laugh uncontrollably, and some have out-of-body experiences. Some feel simply a tingling in their legs, and others feel nothing. For those that it does affect, after the initial burst of trippiness, there's another half hour or so of feeling giddy or enlightened, and one's limbs feel strangely elastic.

The state representatives who have introduced legislation to criminalize this plant, Vinny deMacedo of Plymouth and Daniel Webster of Pembroke—both Republicans—don't appear to have any direct experience with salvia, and since there's no report locally or nationally of injuries caused by it, their drive to forbid its use is not based on fact but fantasy.

The "evidence" that damned the plant and fired up the reps' legislative fervor was videos on YouTube that local police forwarded to them, showing young people acting absurdly after smoking salvia. The dozen or so videos I've watched show teens and twenty-somethings hanging out with their friends, either laughing their asses off or staring at nothing, agape and agog. But for the smoking involved, the videos are entirely G-rated. There's no sex or violence, and the subjects all appear to be enjoying themselves immensely. Minus the beer in plastic cups, it doesn't look much different than the behavior at Fenway after a home team grand slam.

Even though it's been centuries since the first Puritans set foot in our state, and we've progressed far enough to allow gay marriage and contemplate decriminalizing pot, it appears some segment of our populace still thinks persecuting non-traditional pleasure seekers is a worthwhile pursuit of government.

In 1994, UMass professor of comparative literature David Lenson wrote On Drugs, a book that helps explain what the cops and state reps believe about salvia and other substances that scares them enough to make them want to throw users in prison and destroy their lives.

Lenson's approach is radical. What he doesn't do is marshal scientific studies on rats and assemble statistical data from police logs and emergency rooms to explain all the reasons to just say no. Instead, as a drug user himself, he uses his own experiences and abilities to parse language to explain why some of us say yes, please, and why others vilify that choice. It's a far more thoughtful, honest and convincing approach than those who point to a fried egg and try to compare it to a drug-addled brain.

He points out the similarities between the ancient Greek word for drugs and the word for scapegoat (pharmaka and pharmakos) and suggests there has always been a strong relationship between the two concepts. The War on Drugs, he points out, was started by Nixon right after the Vietnam War ended. At the time, recreational drugs were closely associated with those who had resisted the military action and returning soldiers who had become disillusioned with their country. Since then, the greatest number of people imprisoned for drugs have been those already marginalized by society—the poor and minorities—even though there's ample evidence that the wealthy and white indulge just as much, if not more.

Further, he argues, those who spend their money and time looking for pleasure in altering their personal chemistry, especially with hallucinogens and marijuana, offer an apparent affront to consumer culture in general. Instead of being obsessed with purchasing more and more of the objects everyone else has, those who get high or trip are looking for an intangible, personal experience.

When I interviewed Lenson on the efforts to criminalize salvia divinorum, and remarked on how weak the case against it appeared to be, his response was, "Of course there's no correlation between the legal taxonomies and botanical taxonomies when talking about drugs." I'd only frustrate myself looking for logic in the legislators' arguments.

"The vote to decriminalize marijuana in Massachusetts is a high water mark in the War on Drugs," he said. "No one could have imagined this a decade ago" (when he'd written his book). He saw similarities between what was happening between pot and the end of alcohol prohibition in the 1930s. As with alcohol, as states stop enforcing the laws against pot, "the bricks are starting to fall out of the wall" in the federal government's case against the drug. He also pointed out that "the U.S. spends the same capital on petroleum as it does on illegal drugs," and given that salvia's popularity is slight in comparison to other drugs, banning it would have little effect on the government's overall agenda.

What effect might Obama have on the War on Drugs? It was still unclear, he said, pointing to the president-elect's apparent affinity for those who worked for the last Democratic president: "Clinton was as bad as Nixon. He had his own brother arrested for cocaine. But if Obama focuses on the plight of African-Americans, he might recognize they are a great percentage of those serving time for drug offenses."

As the interview ended, he asked me if I'd been given the same spiel on salvia that he'd gotten: "I was told you'd meet an entity, and you needed to prepare a question for him. So I formulated my question, but when I tried the salvia the first time, I had spectacular visions, but I didn't see an entity. I tried it again, and still no entity. I'd thought it would be huge, and I wondered if I wasn't looking in the right place. When I explained this to another user, he said the entity wasn't huge at all, but small. The size of a clock radio."

I first encountered salvia divinorum about a month ago at the Underground, a gift shop in Brattleboro. I had stopped there with some friends on our way for a weekend up north, and while browsing in the 18-and-older section at the back of the shop, amongst the glass pipes I spotted the small canisters of pure salvinorin-a, the active ingredient in salvia. Packaged and distributed by Purple Sticky Salvia, the canisters don't contain the plant itself, but the drug extracted at different potencies, ranging in price from $40 (10x potency) to $90 (30x potency). The packaging states that it's an "aromatic incense" and says nothing about its effects. As my friends and I considered the options for a while, the store clerk asked us if we'd ever tried it before, and when we all shook our heads, she firmly but kindly advised caution.

She reminded us it was intended as an incense, but if we should choose to inhale it, she recommended doing so with a water pipe, and only using a small flake of it at first—less than the size of the head of a thumbtack. If that didn't work, we weren't to double the dosage, but only take a fraction more; when it did kick in, we'd be tripping before we were able to put the pipe down. Seeing our uneasiness, she suggested we try the dried leaves instead of the extract. For $30, we bought a pouch of the leaves, which we were assured were less intense and could be smoked with rolling papers.

While my friends didn't experience much smoking the leaves, the effect to me was similar to my first experience with laughing gas. Sitting in a chair, I felt a sudden rush and the world became a blur, as if I were traveling through it quickly. I tilted my head back and it felt as if it were drooping all the way down to the floor. For five minutes or so I could hear my friends talking distantly around me, but I was so absorbed in what was happening in my head and body, I couldn't make sense of it. Then it was over, and I sat quietly reflecting on what had happened.

When I returned to the Underground to take photos for this story, I met the co-owner of the store, Christine Grant. She reiterated much of what I'd been told the first time, emphasizing the need to have someone sober around should the user decide to inhale. I asked if the product was popular. "Very," she said. "My co-owner has been selling it here and in some of his other stores for six to eight years, and it's always sold well. We get people driving a long way for it. But demand's always the greatest whenever there's controversy in the press about it."

I asked if anyone had ever complained, or if she'd heard of any bad experiences. "No one's asked for their money back," she told me. "Once in a while someone does too much, or does it without a sober buddy, and they don't have a great time." But it wasn't the norm.

The plant's Latin name translates as "sage of seers," and it originates from Oaxaca, Mexico, where it is still used by the Mazatec shamans for divination, and in smaller doses, as a cure for diarrhea, anemia and headaches. It has not been much studied in Western medicine, but a 2007 report in the Houston Chronicle quoted Bryan L. Roth, director of the National Institute of Mental Health's Psychoactive Drug Screening Program: "We think that drugs derived from the active ingredient could be useful for a range of diseases: Alzheimer's, depression, schizophrenia, chronic pain and even AIDS or HIV." If it were made illegal, though, research would grind to a halt.

Rather than asking whether or not salvia divinorum should be criminalized, I think the far more important question is whether it's acceptable for our legislators and law enforcement officials to use YouTube as a tool to cast judgment and set policy. I used Wikipedia as a research source for this story, but since it is an Internet source, I know it's not always authoritative, and I double-checked the information elsewhere. Shouldn't we, at the very least, expect the same from those who write and enforce our laws?"

Enter Club13

Magic Mint: Medicine or Menace?


This week Video Journalist Ginny Stein reports from America, where the rise of a hallucinogenic drug is wreaking havoc on the country's youth.

Salvia, also known as “magic mint”, sends users on a short but intense high. Despite the disturbing effects, almost two million Americans have tried salvia, and it’s legal in most states.

The active compound in salvia is unique, because it stimulates a single receptor in the human brain.

Scientists fear that the YouTube videos are creating unnecessary hysteria, making a Federal ban more likely, which in turn would curtail their research. While some politicians are pushing for a ban, others are urging caution: “Is this really a menace?” asks Democrat MP Ellie Kinnaird, “or is this something that is probably very limited in scope and…not the most fun, and therefore will not continue?”

Little is known about the long-term effects of smoking salvia. There have been rare claims of salvia-related deaths in the US, but nothing proved. However, Professor Roth admits there are dangers: “At the height of it he [a salvia user] didn’t really know where he was, so obviously the concern would be if he was alone…that could potentially be a bad thing.”

In 2002, Australia became the first country to ban salvia, citing a high potential for abuse and potential risk to public health and safety. Since then, a handful of other countries have followed suit.


A different part of the world, but on drugs again. Imagine one so powerful that within a few moments of taking it, your body and mind effectively short circuits and you become a gibbering mess. Well, that's what's happening to thousands of young Americans using a legal herb that can be grown in your backyard. The dramatic increase in its use, spurred on by graphic home videos on YouTube, has both legislators and, for entirely different reason, medical researchers worried. Here's Ginny Stein.

REPORTER: Ginny Stein

It might not always look like fun, but these people are all trying the hippest new hallucinogen.

WOMAN: I'm pretty sure I'm going into it.

MAN: You want a little bit more?

It's a herb called salvia, also known as diviner's sage or magic mint.

MAN: So this is Casey smoking salvia for like the billionth time.

A US Health Department survey estimates almost 2 million people have tried it, and more than a third of those in the past year alone.

MAN: Hold it in, don't breath it out. You feel it yet? Give me a thumbs up when you feel it. He's going to feel it about now.

BOY: My heart's going faster and faster. Yeah. Oh, shit.

Salvia use has skyrocketed in the past year, spurred on by the flood of videos like this posted on the YouTube website demonstrating the herb's short-lived but intense effect. Thousands of videos have been posted, and the most popular have been viewed over a million times. Salvia is a member of the mint family, and for centuries it's been used by Mexican shamans wanting to connect with the spirit world. But now it's become commercially available across much of America.

JOHN LONG, SHOP OWNER: This is the 10, 15, 20. And then we are out of the 30.

Here in North Carolina, salvia can be legally sold in stores and online, and it comes in a range of purities to suit every customer.

JOHN LONG: You know the price goes up for the stronger stuff and most people are just buying it to try it.

John Long is a businessman. He helps run what's known in the United States as a head shop. It's within walking distance to the main campus of the University of North Carolina. But he says his clients are not just students.

JOHN LONG: It's a wide range of people. I mean, older people, younger people - obviously have to be 18 to buy it. But, yeah, you have your college kids, you have your early parents, older parents, and then your people that have been around for a while.

24-year-old Travis and 21-year-old Anne have both used salvia. Neither describe it as pleasurable, just intense.

TRAVIS, SALVIA USER: It was an experience, it was something that was good to experience, you know. It's like sky diving or bungie jumping - it was not something I exactly want to do all the time but it would be good to do that.

ANNE, SALVIA USER: I didn't really get that much out of it, it was just a really intense experience for maybe 15 or so minutes, and then it went away. And I just felt kind of icky afterwards.

TRAVIS: See, right now, there could be something flying by him in his eyes...

Like many who've smoked salvia, Travis has watched YouTube's growing collection of clips showing the drug's effects. This one, he tells me, is something he can relate to.

TRAVIS: I mean you just inhale and I give you five seconds. You're like five seconds... because you can see it in his face, as soon as he exhales, right there. He realises what happens and then he's expecting a good time, so he's loving it right now because he's just going through a trip phase and having a good time because that's what they told him. And then he realises it is not a great time because they are not helping him control it. He's just completely engulfed in the situation right now, and it's uncontrollable. He can't control it right now because he has the influences around him.

But even with such powerful effects, little is known about whether salvia causes any long-term damage to the brain, or even whether it's addictive. But one thing researchers do know is that magic mint may well hold the key to important new medical advances.

PROFESSOR BRYON ROTH, PHARMACOLOGY: You can basically sample all the amino acid space in an unbiased fashion...

Professor Bryon Roth is a psychiatrist and pharmacologist at the University of North Carolina, and his lab is one of hundreds investigating salvia's potential.

PROFESSOR BRYON ROTH: What did you find? You've got six plates? Really, of what?

Professor Roth is credited with discovering the unique impact of the herb's active compound, salvinorin A. He says that while other drugs typically stimulate many receptors in the brain, salvia is unique in that it stimulates just one.

PROFESSOR BRYON ROTH: That is the receptor molecule, and this is salvinorin A. This red and white thing here, you can see it there. And that's how it binds to the capia opiate receptor. So in blue here, that's the receptor.

That highly unusual quality could inspire unprecedented breakthroughs, with early evidence suggesting new possibilities for the treatment of pain and psychiatric problems.

PROFESSOR BRYON ROTH: And so here you have a molecule that Mother Nature has made which is highly selective for one target, and if we can understand why that is then that might give us some clues in to how we can use that information and basically make more targeted medications for a number of other diseases.

What's more, salvia may even hold the key to new treatment for drug addiction.

PROFESSOR BRYON ROTH: Which in some ways is somewhat paradoxical because here you have this hallucinogenic agent but paradoxically it may actually have the property of diminishing the reinforcing or drug-addictive properties like certain drugs like cocaine and heroin and so on.

But some are deeply worried about salvia's increasing popularity.

SENATOR RICHARD STEVENS, NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN: I have asked our staff here in North Carolina to do research for me to propose some legislation that would deal with that as an illegal substance in North Carolina.

Republican Senator Richard Stevens' immediate reaction to seeing the YouTube videos was to propose his state impose a ban.

SENATOR RICHARD STEVENS: There were hundreds and hundreds of examples of young people showing themselves in the video supposedly having used this drug. There was one I watched that showed a controlled environment in which a person was there not using the drug and someone who was, and the person was describing what they were feeling and their reactions. And they were very violent and very strong reactions in every case.

WOMAN: It'll go away in like two minutes. Just let it go.

13 US states have already banned or regulated salvia's use. And America's Drug Enforcement Agency is now considering whether to place a nationwide ban on the drug. But outlawing the herb could have unintended consequences. Professor Roth says scheduling it as a class one drug - in the same category as heroin and cocaine - would stifle the promising research currently taking place in hundreds of labs.

PROFESSOR BRYON ROTH: It's possible that a hysteria could develop based in part on all of these videos on YouTube and lead basically to this immediate scheduling of schedule one. If the compound is schedule one it is nearly impossible to then use it, to develop that compound as a therapeutic agent. So it basically puts the kibosh on all sort of therapeutic drug development.

SENATOR RICHARD STEVENS: If that many young people are using this drug with that kind of reaction, it ought to be dealt with. Our young people, sadly, in this country use lots of different kinds of medications for a thrill, for a high, and get themselves hurt, get other people hurt, cause great kinds of calamities in their own families. It's an issue that needs attention.

But surprisingly, for once not every politician is keen to open up a new front on the war on drugs. Democratic Senator Ellie Kinnaird is co-chair of North Carolina's justice committee.

SENATOR ELLIE KINNAIRD, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRAT: I think we have to go very carefully and we have to say "Is this really a menace, is this really something that is spreading rapidly and is causing a great deal of trouble for young children or young adults or whatever? Or is this something that is probably very limited in scope and probably, from what I've read, not the most fun, and therefore will not continue?"

MAN: Sit down, Joe. Stop him with the camera. Stop.

WOMAN: You're in my room.

TRAVIS: I couldn't get up and just want to do some salvia in the morning and trip phase. That's a little far-fetched.

REPORTER: Would you do it again?

ANNE: No, pretty much just personally I am studying psychology and all those psychotic symptoms scare me so I don't want to experience that anymore now that I am that much aware of what all is going on, I'm not interested in it.

GEORGE NEGUS: Smart girl. A real dilemma, though, isn't it? Does the good outweigh the bad? We'll get reporter Ginny Stein to keep an eye on developments. Salvia's already banned here, but you can have your say on America's attitude to so-called magic mint on our website sbs.com.au/dateline.


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Salvia Divinorum: Massachusetts Ban Passes House

A bill that would add salvia divinorum to the Bay State's list of controlled substances has passed out of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. HB 4434 passed the House on September 29 and now heads for the state Senate.

Supporters of the ban, led by Rep. Viriato Manuel deMacedo (R-Plymouth), who cosponsored the bill, said salvia is a dangerous, mild-altering drug. They cited the infamous Youtube videos of young people under the influence of the plant, as well as recent national survey data suggesting that use is on the rise.

Salvia has no known toxic level and produces a fast-acting, short-lived high. It has been used in traditional shamanism in Mexico, where it originated, for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. According to the Salvia Divinorum Research and Information Center, the herb has been used in divination, healing, meditation, and for exploration of consciousness.

If the Massachusetts salvia ban passes into law, Massachusetts would become at least the ninth state to outlaw the herb. Another handful of states have restricted its sales without an outright ban.

The Massachusetts bill also includes a provision adding blunt wrapping papers and glass rose pipes to the state's list of items deemed drug paraphernalia.

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Plant outlawed in Mississippi

By staff reports

TRIAD Herbals

Attorney General Jim Hood sends warning to Mississippi business owners that it is no longer legal to sell Salvia Divinorum, a small leafy green plant known for its strong psychedelic effects.

“We looked into a complaint from a mother in Rankin County that a particular store had this plant on the shelf,” said Attorney General Hood. “It turns out local law enforcement had just raided the store and took all of the salvia stock. The business owner claimed he was unaware that it was now against the law to sell salvia.”

As of July 1, 2008, a new state law makes Salvia Divinorum a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, possession of which can result in felony charges.

“Many local law enforcement officers are going around and removing salvia from stores within their respective jurisdictions,” said Hood. “If the stores have the product, they are given a warning and notified of the recent changes in the law. If they are caught a second time, they will face charges.”

Salvia Divinorum is found primarily in the Mazateca region of Mexico. It was first discovered in the late 1930s by a group of anthropologists stying medicinal and magical cures in Mexico.

The plant was rediscovered in the early 1990s by the global underground psychedelic culture and has grown over the years in popularity in the United States. The plant is only recently beginning to be outlawed in states such as Mississippi, Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee.

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Meet -- or Don't Meet -- Salvia

ACCORDING TO a recent report in the New York Times, roughly 1.8 million people have used salvia in their lifetimes; as many as 750,000 people reported trying the substance in the previous year. Never heard of the drug? It's a member of the mint family known to be a powerful hallucinogenic. In the past, it was primarily used in spiritual ceremonies by Mexicans. In recent years, its recreational use in the United States, particularly among 18- to 25-year-old males, has skyrocketed.

Although 13 states have prohibited or otherwise regulated salvia, the herb is not banned under federal law and is sold legally online and in specialty shops that carry drug paraphernalia and other products. Given the rapid rise in its use, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration should conduct a formal review to determine whether access to it should be restricted or banned.

Some academics believe that salvia could be useful in treating depression and controlling pain, but there's little scientific evidence about the drug's effects on the body in the short or long terms. A formal evaluation by the DEA and FDA would help fill in the gaps. Any legitimate medical use would be permitted even if its use was restricted for the public at large.

Not all substances that can cause harm should be banned. After all, many common products -- from aerosol sprays to over-the-counter medicines -- are all too often misused by those seeking a cheap high, sometimes with devastating results. But the federal agencies should consider the 5,000 or so salvia videos posted on YouTube, many appearing to show disturbing effects, as a spur to take this substance seriously.

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