Legal Hallucinogen Warrants Policy Review
> 7/27/2007 10:55:46 AM

As we reported in 2006, the intoxicating leaves of the salvia divinorum, though they provide a "high" comparable to such illicit botanicals as peyote and psilocybin mushrooms and have been described as "the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen," have yet to be restricted by law in most states. In the face of ongoing research, legislators may need to re-examine the issue.

Despite the relatively low instance of reported use and abuse of the plant, many herbalists have noted a surge in consumer interest, stating that they receive daily calls from parties clearly interested in its growing reputation as a recreational drug. Only four states have passed laws forbidding the sale and possession of salvia to date, and though most likely not on display in the window of the average florist, it is still widely available through mail order via various drug-advocacy websites. Though its effects are often short lived, lasting between 15 minutes and 2 hours, users compare it to notorious hallucinogens such as LSD, reporting "dream-like" perceptual distortions. Salvia has been used for centuries among various shamanic Mexican tribes as an element of religious ceremony, supposedly valued for its ability to prompt typical hallucinatory trances passing as "spiritual visions."

The drug is unique in that its scientific classification ("opioid receptor antagonist") places it in the same category as morphine and other rightly maligned opium derivitaves. While some drug specialists report no signs of potential for addiction, pointing to the brief duration of the "high" induced by chewing or smoking the plant's leaves and positing that use of the drug will not lead to any late-night emergency room visits or states of prolonged psychosis, others categorically disagree: researcher Bryan L. Roth of the University of North Carolina, author of the most extensive clinical assessments of salvia, states that "Salvia divinorum and salvinorin A are emerging hallucinogenic drugs of abuse" and that they should clearly be regulated by law.

Still, Roth recommends they not be listed as "Schedule I compounds" because such designations would limit further study. While the concept of hallucinogens as medication warrants serious skepticism, several labs across the country are currently conducting tests to determine the medicinal value of the herb (most likely in modified forms) as a possible treatment for depression, chronic pain and, yes, drug addiction itself. Exactly how a known intoxicant will serve such purposes remains to be seen.

Further information is obviously needed in order to weigh the risks inherent in the consumption of salvia. But any substance capable of bringing about what users describe as an "intense, out-of-body experience" should be greeted with a guarded hesitance. With time, salvia may well reveal a legitimate medicinal purpose, but no one beyond the usual cadre of self-appointed drug enthusiasts has encouraged its recreational use, and as with all proven intoxicants, interested parties are best advised to stay away.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy