Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Teens could experiment with legal drug

By Joey Rinaldi

Robo-tripping… huffing gasoline… inhaling household cleaners. For years, teenagers have experimented and found ways to simulate the effects of many illegal drugs. Now, some people are using another plant that is legal -- so far.

Salvia divinorum is a plant which contains the active compound salvinorin A. Some research has shown Salvinorin A to be the strongest natural hallucinogen known to man.

Salvia is very accessible. Many herb and head shops sell individually sized packets of dry salvia leaves, which can then be smoked or rolled up and chewed to achieve the desired effect. And since it’s legal, most of them will sell to anyone, no matter what their age is. There are also websites where anyone with a credit card and a valid mailing address can order salvia.

Peter Borchard owns Companion Plants on North Coolville Ridge Road in Athens. He’s been selling Salvia plants since the mid-1980s, including Salvia divinorum. He says the plant gained popularity in the early '90s but demand is down in recent years. His company deals mostly with online and mail-orders, so he doesn't know much about his customer base. But he adds that many people who order salvia plants want them for decorative or ritualistic purposes.

Peter Borchard discusses what kinds of people purchase Salvia plants.

There are approximately 1000 species of Salvia worldwide, but Salvia divinorum is the only vision-inducing species known. For hundreds of years, it has been used in religious and healing ceremonies by the Mazatec Indians, who live in the province of Oaxaca, in Mexico.

Salvia has been a hot topic of late in the news. The popular website YouTube has many videos of people experiencing "a salvia trip." And many websites, even those attempting to educate users on safely using Salvia, warn about the intesnity of the drug. This is the disclaimer from sagewisdom.com:

"Never, ever, attempt to drive under the influence of salvia--doing so could prove fatal!"

Salvia Legislation

There is an ongoing legal battle in Ohio to try and make Salvia divinorum a schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. A bill was proposed in June 2007 which the Ohio House of Representatives passed on April 15 in a unanimous 95-0 vote.

There is no word whether the senate will pass it before the summer. If signed into law, Ohio would join Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Delaware, Maine and North Dakota as states that have prohibited possession of salvia.

Experimental or Recreational?

Terry Koons is the Associate Director for Health Promotions at Ohio University. He says that salvia won't likely become a recreational drug of choice. But he stresses that experimenting with it can have serious consequences, especially in people who are pre-disposed to mental health problems.

Koons added that he thinks the social acceptability of the drug is low among college students. According to a 1,500 person survey conducted last spring, the campus drugs of choice are

1) alcohol
2) marijuana
3) prescription stimulants (Adderall/Ritalin)
-Fewer than 1% of those surveyed reported using hallucinogens more than once in a 30-day period.

However, Koons says that middle and high school aged kids are likely to experiment with the drug because it's legal (for now, anyway), inexpensive and potent.

Terry Koons talks about the likelihood of experimenting with salvia.

1 comment:

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