Young people turning on to Salvia, the 'legal LSD'

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Alcohol & Drugs

Salvia divinorum, a plant of the sage species, has been used for decades in religious ceremonies by the Mazatec shamans in Oaxaca, Mexico. When smoked or chewed, the plant causes hallucinations and intense out-of-body experiences. The chemical found in this plant, salvinorin A, is considered to be the most potent natural hallucinogenic known to man. And it is legal in 48 states.

In California, you can buy Salvia in smoke shops and herbal stores. Unless you live in Missouri, Louisiana, Delaware or Tennessee, you can buy it on the Internet. It goes for anywhere from $15 to $50 a hit and is sold in the form of fresh or dried leaves, whole plants, seeds or even a salvia extract.

I have never even heard of this drug, but there are those who are concerned about its growing popularity among young people. California Assemblyman Anthony Adams recently introduced legislation that would make the drug illegal, but was voted down. "It's kind of terrifying that we are actively allowing commerce of a drug that has LSD-like qualities," Adams said. "Use of it is only going to get worse. There is no way this drug is going to get less popular."

Jodie Trafton, an addiction specialist at Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, disagrees. Because the drug is "almost definitely" non-addictive, and the high itself very brief, she feels regulation is unnecessary. "People who use this aren't going to continue using it," she said. "You're never going to get more than low-level use. And the effect is too short, so by the time somebody starts freaking out over the effects, it's over. It's not something that's going to bombard emergency rooms."

Medical experts admit that they don't yet know enough to say whether or not the drug is safe. But to me, recreational drugs that cause hallucinations, however brief, are dangerous and should be illegal.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.