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Lawmakers consider outlawing 'next marijuana'
March 11, 2008 2:42 PM   Subscribe

"On Web sites touting the mind-blowing powers of salvia divinorum, come-ons to buy the hallucinogenic herb are accompanied by warnings: 'Time is running out! ... stock up while you still can.' That's because salvia is being targeted by lawmakers concerned that the inexpensive and easy-to-obtain plant could become the next marijuana....Among those who believe the commotion over the drug is overblown is Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit group that does research on psychedelic drugs and whose goal is to develop psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medication."* "Salvia Divinorum is a small leafy green plant found primarily in the Mazateca region of Mexico. Sometimes called 'diviner's sage' the plant was traditionally used by indigenous peoples as a healing and divinatory aid due to its unique properties when chewed or smoked. When consumed in this manner, the active ingredient, Salvinorin-A produces psychedelic effects in the body ranging from mild to extreme."* [previously - 1, 2]
posted by ericb (95 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Salvia divinorum is to marijuana what quantum physics is to Disney World.
posted by humannaire at 2:45 PM on March 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


"the next marijuana..."

Was there something before or since marijuana?
posted by psmealey at 2:49 PM on March 11, 2008


If someone smoked salvia like marijuana, I would honestly be quite scared of them.
posted by Drexen at 2:49 PM on March 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


Holy crap, salvia divinorum as the next pot? A "wake and bake' salvia trip? No thank you.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:54 PM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


If someone smoked salvia like they smoked marijuana, they'd be disappointed.

The drug really does not work like most drugs, and is generally pretty persnickety about the set and setting under which it will do anything wonderful to you. (And when it delivers, it often REALLY delivers, but also sometimes just gives a hint of what it could do.) The experience is over so fast, and often so unreliable, that salvia is almost unable to be abused. And in fact, most people I've met who've tried it casually have found it to be either a waste of their time, or else distinctly unpleasant.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 2:57 PM on March 11, 2008


Woah, I can't wait to get my hands on this stuff so I can finally get a chance at "experiencing a 'non-Euclidean' geometry."
posted by SassHat at 2:59 PM on March 11, 2008


yep, the florida legislature appears to be among the parade of geniuses hopping on-board this train. they're currently entertaining legislation to make possession of the stuff a felony. at the same time, our budgets for just about everything are being lopped off at the knees, to the point that our schools are eliminating school nurses entirely and most of our libraries are slated for closure in the foreseeable future. guess they'll be able to recoup the money off of bringing more jailbirds into our booming prison labor system, though, so there's a bright side, i guess.

most people I've met who've tried it casually have found it to be either a waste of their time, or else distinctly unpleasant.

yeah, wouldn't know anything about that personally, of course, but i could see that.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2008


New York Times (July 19, 2001):
“‘This is a very interesting agent,’ said Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist in Missoula, Mont., who studied Salvia divinorum and other herbs while preparing his book, ‘Handbook of Psychotropic Herbs’ (Haworth Press). ‘It is really in a class by itself.’

Dr. Russo said that scientists had identified the active chemical compound that causes the hallucinations -- Salvinorin A -- but knew little else about Salvia divinorum. Scientists are still unclear about precisely how it interacts with the brain or may affect the rest of the body, and do not know if it leads to long-term side effects.

‘We don't know how it works,’ Dr. Russo said. ‘It doesn't work on serotonin, dopamine or any of the known neurotransmitters. People who are arbitrarily using it need to be cautious. It's totally different from anything they may have tried before.

…The mystery of just how Salvia divinorum works seems to be part of its appeal. It is available almost exclusively through the Internet and has spawned a small but thriving group of commercial Web sites…

…[Daniel] Siebert [who also manages the Salvia Divinorum Research and Information's site on the Internet] said that unlike alcohol or illegal drugs, which often make users more outgoing and gregarious, Salvia divinorum usually makes those who take it more introverted. Its harsh smoke, bitter taste and relatively short-term effects -- it lasts about an hour -- also keep it from being truly user-friendly, he said.

‘It's really not a suitable drug for parties,’ he said. ‘It's not like Ecstasy or LSD. It's not a good drug for socializing. It's the opposite of that. Most of the young people who try it are looking for something that they can use in a recreational context at parties or with friends, and Salvia doesn't work effectively for what they're looking for.’

Mr. Siebert can feel that dissatisfaction in his wallet. Without discussing sales figures in great detail, he reports that only about 1 out of every 10 customers places a repeat order for the plant.’”
posted by ericb at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2008


Woah, I can't wait to get my hands on this stuff so I can finally get a chance at "experiencing a 'non-Euclidean' geometry."

Say hi to the big 'C' for me when you see him on the streets of R'lyeh.
posted by JHarris at 3:04 PM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's an okay drug, in my experience - pretty geometric patterns! inability to move! leaving the club after ten minutes thinking I'd been there for hours! - but do enough people want to do Salvia to make it worth banning? Doubt it.

I was about to say "Also, it'll never catch on because the effects are incredibly brief, not especially interesting compared to other drugs of the same price, and you have to take more and more in a bid to continue the high over the course of an evening". Then I remembered, you know, that's how crack works, and it seems to have caught on just fine.
posted by jack_mo at 3:05 PM on March 11, 2008


Yawn. It's already illegal under the federal analog act, which makes it clear that anything which gets you high is illegal.
posted by mullingitover at 3:07 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


And in fact, most people I've met who've tried it casually have found it to be ... distinctly unpleasant.

‘It's really not a suitable drug for parties,’ he said. ‘It's not like Ecstasy or LSD. It's not a good drug for socializing. It's the opposite of that. Most of the young people who try it are looking for something that they can use in a recreational context at parties or with friends, and Salvia doesn't work effectively for what they're looking for.’


Sounds about right. If you like being thrust into a dark metallic tunnel where you fall for an hour, this is your drug.
posted by Big_B at 3:07 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just reading about Salvia makes me cringe. I can still feel that sharp displeasure that stabbed through me the first and only time I smoked it, when I walked away from my friends to wander around my lawn wondering who I was and why I wanted existence to just stop happening. I swear I left a few braincells in the grass.
posted by pedmands at 3:09 PM on March 11, 2008


Brett's Law is probably the main cause of upset over salvia. Apparently a teenager who committed suicide might have been a habitual salvia user.. Of course, there's a much more real connection between Paxil and suicide, but salvia isn't nearly as profitable.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:11 PM on March 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Jesus. It's already been said in more humorous ways, but let me second that salvia is NOT a party drug. It's not something you smoke and watch Adult Swim for a few hours. It's a "board the spaceship and fly around with the aliens" type drug, when done properly. If done improperly, you won't even feel anything, which is why a lot of people assume it's a "herbal smoke substitute" type scam. If it isn't smoked in a quiet place with no distractions using a torch lighter, you probably won't even get off.

This is just fucking ridiculous. A drug that people enjoy that isn't harming anyone and it's legal? BETTER MAKE IT ILLEGAL! By the way, has my assistant deposited those huge checks from Lilly and Merck yet? How's that draft of the bill to make antidepressants mandatory coming? Fuck, I need a drink!

This isn't surprising, though. I'm surprised it's taken them this long. Anything that isn't on the approved alcohol/tobacco/happy-pill list that becomes even slightly popular will eventually come to their attention, be demonized and then banned. They did it to research chems a few years ago when those became popular due to the 'net increasing awareness of them. Expect to start hearing the stories about white midwestern collegee students smoking salvia and jumping out windows/ceasing church attendance/voting Democrat soon.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:12 PM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


You might want to cite your source, ericb? It has quotes around it and thanks for the links, but am I missing a credit somewhere?
posted by rainbaby at 3:15 PM on March 11, 2008


You might want to cite your source, ericb? It has quotes around it and thanks for the links, but am I missing a credit somewhere?

Maybe you should check out the footnote following the close parenthesis. It's the asterik ... which look like this -- *. It references the AP story, as it appeared on MSNBC.com.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on March 11, 2008


BTW, I didn't mean to make it sound like the experience isn't valuable. I've done extract-enhanced salvia dozens of times in many different settings, trying to figure out the right situation for the best experience. I've had just about every possible type of experience Salvia has to offer, from total misfires to inconceivable out-of-body experiences into realms where the atmosphere was infused with pure information. Ultimately I've decided that one has to build a relationship with psychedelia the way one would with a partner, and salvia is one of those that won't always meet you halfway. I felt rather the same way about DMT as well. If anything, your results and what you make of them are just an important measure of your interest in these substances in the first place.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 3:21 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


following the close parenthesis

*following the close-quote*
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on March 11, 2008


Citizen Premier writes "Brett's Law is probably the main cause of upset over salvia."

From the article:
Over three months after Chidester’s suicide, with no evidence of any trace of salvinorin being found in his system, Delaware’s deputy chief medical examiner, Dr. Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, altered his death certificate to include Salvia divinorum use as a contributing cause of his death. She has subsequently refused to comment on her decision.
Is that a nanny goat? A billy goat? Why no, I think it's a scape goat!
posted by mullingitover at 3:22 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Brett's Law is probably the main cause of upset over salvia. Apparently a teenager who committed suicide might have been a habitual salvia user..

Looks like I spoke too soon, they're further along than I thought.

Of course, there's a much more real connection between Paxil and suicide, but salvia isn't nearly as profitable.

My mother was prescribed Paxil when I was a teenager for panic attacks. Turns out she had a physical disorder that was causing the panic attacks that ended up nearly killing her, but she was given Paxil instead because it's easier and more profitable to just dole out happy pills and tell you to fuck off. Once she told me to apologize for something she imagined I said. Another time she wandered into my room, completely lost, stood in the doorway looking confused, then left. She eventually stopped taking it. I was smoking pot constantly and tripping on the entire pharmacopia of tryptamines and phenythylamines, but I never did shit like that. But hey, Paxil is made by a corporation who pays off politicians, so it's A-OK! Paxil for everyone! Even for people with life-threatening disorders you're too fucking lazy and corrupt to diagnose!
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:23 PM on March 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


An hour? More like fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of having rotated into a timeless, vaguely unpleasant dimension, but still fifteen minutes. I second Drexen's thought, anyone who smoked salvia like marijuana is working on a kind of personal development, or with a conception of entertainment that belongs in a Lovecraft story.
posted by paradoxflow at 3:23 PM on March 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


My footnote went to here? I did check it.
posted by rainbaby at 3:24 PM on March 11, 2008


Yeah, they banned it in Australia a few years back. Pricks.
posted by Jimbob at 3:28 PM on March 11, 2008


The most terrifying few minutes of my life. Well, I imagine going through the birth canal was a bit scarier, but only because it involved excruciating physical agony and lasted a lot longer. Thankfully I don't remember.

The "best" thing about a breakthrough salvia experience -- for the few minutes that you're being folded into the infinitely thin crevice between the 5th and 6th dimensions, you may experience complete amnesia -- no recollection whatsoever of what preceded this moment, including no recollection of having smoked something, of who you are, or even of there being a "who" in the first place.

*shudders, runs and hides under the covers*

On the other hand, it can be pretty profound in a more positive way before you start to worry about who/where/why you are, etc
posted by treepour at 3:28 PM on March 11, 2008


My footnote went to here? I did check it.

Look four lines up. You'll see that the citation for the first quote goes to the AP story. That footnote references the second citation.
posted by ericb at 3:30 PM on March 11, 2008


Butterflies. Insanely complicated but very friendly butterflies who had secrets from my childhood to give back to me.

They want to ban the butterflies?!?

But I've only met them once! They didn't do anything wrong! *I* didn't do anything wrong! I just...I just breathed in, had a moment, and went back to cleaning the house.

Poor butterflies.
posted by batmonkey at 3:32 PM on March 11, 2008 [27 favorites]


Ah. Thanks.
posted by rainbaby at 3:32 PM on March 11, 2008


i heart batmonkey.
posted by CitizenD at 3:43 PM on March 11, 2008


you may experience complete amnesia -- no recollection whatsoever of what preceded this moment, including no recollection of having smoked something, of who you are, or even of there being a "who" in the first place.

Yeah, that happened to me on a "heroic dose" mushroom trip once. Very frightening. I couldn't concieve of a time when I hadn't been tripping, or of a reality that didn't consist entirely of swirling, glowiing arabesques. That's why you always have someone else around to tell you you just took a drug and it will be over soon.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:43 PM on March 11, 2008


What's really disappointing is the active ingredient is poorly understood. Science thrives on the poorly understood. Once outlawed, research into its effects and any possible spin-off medications will be lost.
posted by chairface at 3:44 PM on March 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


My overtired eyes kept reading "saliva," and my first two thoughts were "How are they going to outlaw saliva?" and "Hey, I can get high off of my own spit?"
posted by bibliowench at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I hallucinating a fight over bibliographic technique?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:49 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've taken lots of hallucinogens, but salvia is the only one where I've met and talked to an entity who I couldn't otherwise dismiss as some aspect of my own personality. That's not proof of anything but it kind of gives a sense of scale. The world you knew is gone and replaced by a completely different place, in about maybe 2 minutes, and then you come back rather less suddenly, but without really being able to see where the hallucination ended and reality started again. Interesting, yes; fun, not so much.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:56 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Last time I had salvia, I had become cytoplasm swirling through the innards of an agitated paramecium. The paramecium was punctured by a very gentle shift and I oozed onto a road where I was quickly absorbed by a bus that was making love to a bus making love to an old woman making love to a bus making love to me, but I got kicked off because I hadn't paid the fare.

Last time I had pot, I ate Cheetos and giggled.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:02 PM on March 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


I have to admit, I always thought salvia was a scam made possible by current drug policies, sold at great profit and little risk to morans who will smoke anything in lieu of a good weed connection.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:07 PM on March 11, 2008


I think it would be ridiculous to outlaw it, but I'm pretty sure that's going to happen in many places. However, it's the sort of plant that doesn't stand out much, and it's somewhat common in certain parts of the world. It would be simple enough to grow it yourself without attracting any attention, like among an herb garden or as a houseplant, as long as you don't start selling it or talking to all your neighbors. OTOH, marijuana is almost universally and instantly recognizable. Salvia divinorum is just a variety of sage.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:11 PM on March 11, 2008


Don't 80 - 90% of cactus species have some psychoactive alkaloid or other? Are they going to ban all those, too? How about morning glory? Pretty soon you won't be able to buy anything at the nursery without a permit.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:22 PM on March 11, 2008


I've never tried it, but I've heard people describe a Salvia trip as "suddenly I became a huge zipper, but instead of zipping up a jacket, I started to unzip the universe with the power of my PURE EXISTENCE." Yeah, not exactly a party drug.

It does make one wonder, though, why the government would bother outlawing a variety of mint that makes people have quasi-religious experiences. Certainly there is no societial harm in people thinking of themselves as being "one with the universe" for a few minutes?

But from their point of view, perhaps there is a great deal of harm. I'm trying not to sound all woo-woo here, but maybe the government has a vested interest in keeping people from experiencing altered states of consciousness. Maybe if too many people expand their minds beyond "Whats for dinner tonight?" and "Whats on TV tonight?", the state would start to loose control over the populace.

Honestly, thats the only rationale that I can discern behind wanting to ban Salvia.
posted by Avenger at 4:22 PM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


paradoxflow writes "An hour? More like fifteen minutes. "

Fifteen minutes is a wild exaggeration. More like two minutes, and a mild two minutes at that.

If people in the government actually care about the general welfare, which purportedly this ban would promote, they should work on keeping health care in line with the rate of inflation. This, no. This is pure, uncut grandstanding.
posted by mullingitover at 4:31 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's one of the very few "drugs" I've ever tried, and good god I can't imagine a scenario in which one took salvia to get "high".
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:37 PM on March 11, 2008


The worst eventuality for the dream-master: the dreamer wakes up.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:37 PM on March 11, 2008


that stuff is not fun at all.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:41 PM on March 11, 2008


i love weed, but i confess i love dom perignon more.
posted by Dizzy at 4:48 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Proof that us drug users are polictically impotent fools in the face of stupid laws for thought crimes passed by politicians who are either stupid, drunk on power, or both.
In terms of danger, salvia is much safer than alcohol, or riding a bicycle in traffic, or playing soccer or volleyball, let alone riding a motorcycle. Dangerous activities are tolerated, smoking plants like indians is not. The reviews of the article on this site are uniformly correct, and indicative of thought and experience, yet they are the exact opposite of legislative efforts and actions. More proof that we are dangerous self important monkeys as a species. I believe some refer to it as the pharmacratic inquisition or something...
I am not a political creature, I fight it with love, I am otherwise impotent with regards to politics...
posted by sensi63 at 4:52 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I tried salvia once. I had just finished watching Yellow Submarine, which, in hindsight, was a big mistake. I took the hit, and a few seconds later the whole room started to twist away from me like it was swirling down a drain, only it wasn't going down; it was sort of upwards and to the right, but it was really a direction I'd never been conscious of before. Before the room disappeared completely, I grabbed a hold of the couch and lay down, because otherwise I would have fallen over and probably bashed my skull on something. Once I was on the couch, I found myself most decidedly in Pepperland (see my mistake now?). I spent a few minutes there, and then my attention became fixated on a swirling pool of colors. I didn't know what it was, but I thought I could learn something if I watched it long enough, so I stared at the colors and watched them twist and move. Slowly and gradually, they cohered into something I recognized. I was staring at the bookcase and seeing the spines of paperbacks. That was the end of the trip.

I can't see any pressing reason why salvia should be utterly banned, but it's sure as hell no fun party drug.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:56 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've tried it a few times - the trouble is that it's not fun like acid and it goes by too fast to really work things out.

Seconding the comments about suicide and prescription psychotropics. Grandstanding, but also part of the "don't let them catch a glimpse of reality or they might catch on to us!" theory.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:58 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now we know that Miéville wrote parts of Perdido Street Station on (or rather, after) salvia (translated into dreamshit in the story). Cf. the hallucinatory brain-eating moths, and the scene in which Isaac, after being slipped the drug, can't figure out how to get into bed because his sheets have morphed into intricately folded dimensions.
posted by bad grammar at 5:05 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


... conception of entertainment that belongs in a Lovecraft story.

Yes, please! Unfortunately, I'm in Missouri - so much for that idea.
posted by adipocere at 5:11 PM on March 11, 2008


Hey, 5-MeO-DIPT is apparently currently legal in Canada.
posted by juv3nal at 5:12 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


In our grim near-future, the DEA will employ wandering freelance agents equipped with tanks of Round-Up and flamethrowers to quell Mother Nature's nefarious attempts to make babbling drug-crazed hippies of us all, pushing her psychoactive wares upon us right beneath our feet. "If it's green, it's obscene - burnt and brown, keep it around" they'll chant in passing, idly distributing pamphlets on how to report neighbors suspected of using your tax-paid water for hydroponic purposes. Gardening stores will need to apply for licenses to fertilize, as it will be illegal to distribute or store more than a 3.5 milligrams of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium at a time, and only for the purposes of growing tubers or legumes (the amount of growth above soil-level is strictly monitored). The greenhouse raids will be televised, and images of shrieking botanists trying to flush their vile stashes of "terror-gon" and "seditious cilantro" down the commode will be standard evening news fare. Thankfully, the list of government-approved condiments will include bacon bits and gravy; the USDA food pyramid will be updated accordingly.
posted by krippledkonscious at 5:15 PM on March 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


I was trying to work out if the usernames in this thread are a representative sample of MetaFilter as a whole, or if there's something else going on.

Then I found it easier - and much more interesting - to imagine you all as insanely complicated but very friendly butterflies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:31 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Salvia: passing fad or millennia-long God-given herb. Whatever.

Now: how about all these intense lab-produced psychedelic compounds, produced too quickly to be outlawed?

It sure was a lot easier for users and cops when ya had weed, acid, H, speed and pills.

There are only a few brave psychonauts on the planet: let them be. God bless 'em. I'll read about their exploits; I'm no longer as brain-reckless as I was forty years ago.
posted by kozad at 5:40 PM on March 11, 2008


I said it a while back, but in my salvia dreams is where I'm a viking... ship.
posted by item at 5:48 PM on March 11, 2008


It's so funny how many people here have an opinion on Salvia.

Last time I smoked it (a year ago) the most memorable part of the "trip" was when I thought my arms were water balloons, and I tried to smack them against things so they might pop.

Funny once in a while with friends? I guess so.

NEXT MARIJUANA? No. There will be so much money and manpower wasted if a ban actually goes into effect. Christ.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 5:59 PM on March 11, 2008


anyone who smoked salvia like marijuana is working on a kind of personal development, or with a conception of entertainment that belongs in a Lovecraft story.

So funny, and so true.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 6:02 PM on March 11, 2008


mullingitover: "Over three months after Chidester’s suicide, with no evidence of any trace of salvinorin being found in his system, Delaware’s deputy chief medical examiner, Dr. Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, altered his death certificate to include Salvia divinorum use as a contributing cause of his death. She has subsequently refused to comment on her decision."

Is that a nanny goat? A billy goat? Why no, I think it's a scape goat!


I believe the fear of salvia in this case is less due to its acute effects, and more that we don't know enough to rule out that it might cause permanent neurological damage with regular use.

chairface: What's really disappointing is the active ingredient is poorly understood. Science thrives on the poorly understood. Once outlawed, research into its effects and any possible spin-off medications will be lost.

It's still possible to conduct (government-funded!) research on illegal drugs - you just have to jump through more hoops to do it.

Avenger: I'm trying not to sound all woo-woo here, but maybe the government has a vested interest in keeping people from experiencing altered states of consciousness. Maybe if too many people expand their minds beyond "Whats for dinner tonight?" and "Whats on TV tonight?", the state would start to loose control over the populace.

I don't know. While there might be an element of this, I think the government scapegoating actually reflects the knee-jerk reaction of a terrified and ill-informed public. Which itself might reflect government-backed scaremongering like D.A.R.E., but it's really a chicken/egg question at that point.
posted by granted at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2008


Yeah now that I remember, it was closer to fifteen minutes - not an hour. Either way, not a fun experience for me. And I have had a lot of fun experiences with other substances.
posted by Big_B at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2008


Word to the wise: If you do smoke it, be sure and put the pipe down right away.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:26 PM on March 11, 2008


Which itself might reflect government-backed scaremongering like D.A.R.E., but it's really a chicken/egg question at that point.

I know I'm not alone on this: DARE and the like are a big reason I developed a drug problem. I was told by DARE and Nancy Reagan and after-school specials and on and on that marijuana was a horrible scourge that would turn me into a craven drug addict and LSD would instantly turn me into a pants-wetting schizophrenic. I tried marijuana and nothing happened except a craving for Doritos. I tried LSD and had a great time. I figured that if they lied about that, they must have lied about everything. It wasn't until later in life when I actually saw people who had fucked up their life with heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. and I had a not-insignificant opiate gorilla myself that I gained some perspective.

The same thing happens to a greater degree with home-schooled kids and kids who go to Christian schools. Once out from under the Distended Belly of Our Savior, they have no perspective on anything and have been told that everything is bad and once they find out that was a lie, they figure NOTHING is bad. Then they end up pregnant alcoholics at 20. My brother graduated from a Christian high school, and he is the only one of his small graduating class that isn't an addict, in prison, or otherwise fucked for life, mostly because he only went there for the last few years of high school.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:33 PM on March 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Since we are all waxing eloquently about our salvia experiences...I will say that it is definitely not an "abusable" drug in the traditional sense, but that doesn't express the only way that it threatens our fair republic. As for it's abusibility, I would rather smoke a pack of Marlboro Reds than do salvia twice in a day. I do remember experimenting with it for a few months about eight years ago, though. I had wanted to find some DMT, but didn't seem to have the right friends. Salvia was available in every head shop on Melrose Avenue.

Mostly, using it just gave me a rough cough and bad headache. There was that time though (*that time* seems to be a common trope in salvia usage) when I was just a little too casual about it and stumbled around my apartment as if the left half of my body was suddenly wired backwards. I managed to get to the floor just in time for the window pane of reality to suddenly fall to the left leaving only reality. It was all an odd episode, a dream, I thought getting up and walking to the window overlooking my street. I was only mildly perplexed to see silver threads of energy spiraling up from people's bodies to the sky, where they wove an infinitely intricate net. Energy from people, from the trees, from every living thing. Looking around, the only thing that eclipsed the curiosity of what I saw was noticing that I was floating. In fact, I had floated right outside my window and was suspended above the street.

I opened my eyes, stood up slowly, and looked around my apartment. I don't think I could have been on the floor more than a minute or two. I am recounting this story not because it is that interesting or even that far afield from a strong salvia experience. Boy smokes strange weed and has textbook popularly understood astral experience. It's kind of cliche, but I was as fucking there as I am sitting here. I remember every minor detail of that experience like I remember the Challenger vaporizing overhead when I was in 5th grade. And I suspect that that degree of profundity has no place in a productive and compliant citizenry. That experience, unlike all the pot, LSD, shrooms, etc. that I did, opened up a sense in me of the profound. I think that the concepts that drive our modern republic: "freedom," "justice," "opportunity,"...and now perhaps "terror," are diminished through experiences like I had. The might have once held an existential truth, but now they are threatened by them. If I was interested in maintaining the current power relations of state, I would outlaw it as well.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:50 PM on March 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


Everyone who has tried it will explain effects that seem vastly different than the next person. Many people will claim it does barely anything at all. One thing that CAN be usefully taken from most people's experiences though relates to how often they'd want to use it:

Not. Often. At. All. If ever again, really. From a purely monetary or enforcement standpoint, what the hell do you gain by banning a substance that even wile legal is barely touched by most people? If it was a threat to public safety, perhaps, but in this instance that's a really hard case to make.

Just seems to me like a side effect of the continuing the war on drugs, of it expanding to try and further the borders of its hard fought territory. It doesn't have to make sense; people are so used to sorting things mentally based on habit that if you can point to a substance that can potentially alter consciousness and ask if it should be illegal they'll likely think "yes, of course it should, other psychoactives are illegal, and for good reason".

Right or wrong it seems to be the way things flow now.
posted by Stunt at 6:50 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


granted writes "I believe the fear of salvia in this case is less due to its acute effects, and more that we don't know enough to rule out that it might cause permanent neurological damage with regular use."

Many things are bad for you. Salvia doesn't compel one to use it frequently. Meanwhile, there are a vast array of activities that are guaranteed to cause permanent neurological damage with regular use (football, boxing, alcohol, oxygen) which we don't just allow, but encourage.

I stand by my assertion that the government has no business telling us what we do with our own bodies as long as we're footing the bill.
posted by mullingitover at 7:11 PM on March 11, 2008


I'd just like to remark that from an experienced user's point of view, it seems like 90% of the talk about salvia in this thread seems to be coming from people who have never used it, and another 5% seems to be coming from those who have never used it successfully.

It doesn't last an hour, and it doesn't last only "a mild two minutes". When you get a good run, time ceases to have any meaning at all, really, but I'd say on average the effects last anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes, with the peak being somewhere in the first 5 minutes. Mixing the experience with other drugs can lengthen it, and almost always intensifies it. Marijuana makes the experience longer and more bodily, magic mushrooms makes the experience last upwards of half an hour. I especially liked the "I am a zipper that unzips the universe with my PURE EXISTENCE" comment.

As to the "I would be afraid of somebody who smokes salvia like most people smoke marijuana" comment, you're looking at somebody who did that for a period of weeks during one summer. I found it more interesting than any other psychedelic I've tried, with few lasting side effects beyond a slight pversensitization to other drugs.
posted by tehloki at 7:20 PM on March 11, 2008


tehloki writes "It doesn't last an hour, and it doesn't last only 'a mild two minutes'. "

It's worth mentioning that there are several concentrations available, ranging from plain dried leaves straight from the plant to things like 40x concentrated extracts. The experience can be as different as a pint of pabst is from a pint of everclear.
posted by mullingitover at 7:25 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I smoke salvia every nine months or so. I have attempted to grow some. It's a very interesting drug and and even more interesting plant. It's a shame that politics gets in the way of scientific, personal and even spiritual curiosity.

As said, it is not a social drug. It is not *fun* and very few people who take it enjoy the experience. It will never be popular, addictive, or convince other people to do drugs. It is more likely to scare people off them, without doing any sort of permanent damage in the process. The reason is that most people will take it thinking "I am gonna get high" without any respect for setting, emotional state, or the drug itself. This is a plant with religious significance, a powerful entheobotanical, and should not be taken lightly or for kicks. If you attempt to do so, you will probably not enjoy the experience.

Having said that, all my salvia experiences have been unpleasant. None have been "entertaining" or "fun" but they have all been amazing. In trying to describe it to a friend, I told him to imagine going your entire life without dreaming, and then, one day being blessed with one. The value of substances like salvia, to me, is that they are effective in breaking people out of their way of thinking by pure shock value. I often come out of an experience with a strong desire to change certain negative parts of my life. Your mileage may vary. I cannot for the life of me imagine someone taking a strong dose of salvia more than once a month. I smoke 25x and I only find myself in the mood to try it again, and in a good enough emotional state about every nine months.

It's a shame, I think, that people who have a strong personal interest in substances like salvia find themselves constantly under threat. There will always be an element of our society that wishes to experiment, for whatever reason. Part of it is about being young, but not all of it. There will always be that need. You cannot legislate against human nature, and in attempting to do so you only punish those who are earnestly attempting to explore the richness of life's experience.

I will continue to partake of salvia when I am able. It is not something I would give up lightly, it has deep personal significance for me. I am saddened to see what politicians will do to get votes, attacking a plant (how abstract!) and a drug that has been around longer than western democracy and never harmed anyone that treated it with due respect.

What makes me really sad, however, is that Salvia is a very rare, very delicate plant, and if countries legislate against it, there is a good chance it will go extinct, and we will have lost yet another valuable species from the planet.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:39 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's worth mentioning that there are several concentrations available, ranging from plain dried leaves straight from the plant to things like 40x concentrated extracts. The experience can be as different as a pint of pabst is from a pint of everclear.

Worth repeating.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 7:43 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Salvia is sold at head shops (with prices varying according to purported potency). I asked the clerk at the neighborhood Doughmain if he had tried the stuff, and his response was that he smoked salvia when he wanted to still his mind, "figure stuff out," and generally be at peace. Sounded fine by me, so I took a chance on it. Later that night (quiet surroundings, two people, torch lighter) I found myself metamorphosed into living LEGO spaghetti, the mind recoiling in horror and shame at the sensation of the Overseers of existence laughing at me for believing that my life was 'real.' The whole hallucinatory event was very terrifying, and over in less than two minutes. I regained my sense of self, compared notes with my friend, and went back for another dip in the weird. My room mate would like to add that his initial encounter with salvia left him clawing in the grass in his backyard, trying to climb a golden ladder that wasn't there.
posted by Curry at 7:45 PM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's worth mentioning that there are several concentrations available, ranging from plain dried leaves straight from the plant to things like 40x concentrated extracts. The experience can be as different as a pint of pabst is from a pint of everclear.

The concentration of salvinorin doesn't affect the duration, only the potency. It lasts for about 10-15 minutes, unless you potentiate it with something else. However, it will seem like it lasted for hours, since time basically ceases to exist, along with most everything else.

And yeah, there's definitely something to the idea that substances like this are banned because they threaten the status quo. Anyone who's tripped on anything more than once has had a moment where they thought "wait a minute, this is all BULLSHIT! Getting up and going to work, following arbitrary rules, getting married, having kids... was it always like this? Does it need to be like this?" You might think that's just a drug enthusiast's misguided attempt to ascribe more meaning to drug experiences than they really have, but remember the 1960s counterculture arose from people taking LSD and having ideas like this. That's the last thing the government wants. Things like mushrooms and research psychedelics are legal and available in head shops in many countries, while they're banned here. They're perfectly happy with American youth being a gaggle of fuckwitted beer-drinking apathetic fashionably dispassionate South Park Republicans, and would rather not have anything that could threaten that be easily available.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:49 PM on March 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


While I've definitely had some pretty interesting experiences on Salvia, I've also watched a great many people convulse violently under its influence, which is pretty disconcerting. It's one of those things that, while I haven't seen any neuroscientific evidence to support the notion, I feel certain must be extremely neurotoxic.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:05 PM on March 11, 2008


South Park Republicans

¿Qué?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:06 PM on March 11, 2008


Decemberboy, you had me until you painted homeschooling with a single broad brush of ignorance and extraordinary overprotection... as homeschooling parents, my partner and i have approached drugs with a great deal of common sense and a "this is politics, this is real..." sort of direction. xtian homeschoolers are a breed of their own--there are lots of people who do it because traditional schooling sucks rocks and stunts our children's intellectual growth.

we opted our schooled child out of DARE because of the studies, and you should have seen the blank looks on the faces of the teachers--she spent her time in the library where she belongs instead of getting indoctrinated into lies and insanity.

i have been given the opportunity to teach high schoolers about drugs and drug abuse--i take great pride in having walked the line with honesty and integrity--

-This is what this drug will do to your mind and your body.
-This is what the some studies in the past have said they will do, and here is the truth as far as we know it, scientifically speaking.
-If you choose to use a drug, do your research. Don't be an idiot.
posted by RedEmma at 8:12 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


¿Qué?

South Park Republican. Basically, the sort of ill-informed Libertarian only a 18-22 year old can be, cracks jokes about Al Gore and Cindy Sheehan, thinks "Liberals" are "whiners", thinks there's like, no difference between the parties, man, and doesn't particularly give a shit about the war in Iraq or anything else that doesn't directly affect them. So named because the creators of South Park are like this (despite the fact they're pushing 40), and many of the episodes have some political message reflecting their uninformed, juvenile opinions.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:16 PM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Decemberboy, you had me until you painted homeschooling with a single broad brush of ignorance and extraordinary overprotection...

Sorry, I should have specified Christian homeschooled kids, but that comprises the vast majority of them. As homeschooling parents, you must have noticed the difficulty in obtaining materials other than science books entitled "Dinosaurs: Satan's Greatest Trick" and the like. People like you, unfortunately, are a tiny minority of homeschooling parents.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:19 PM on March 11, 2008


I predict that the bad guys will win.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:02 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


More grandstanding
posted by gimonca at 9:14 PM on March 11, 2008


well, i don't want to get off topic, but i think that anyone who is homeschooling with an open mind can find loads of properly written scientific materials if they aren't focusing on the idea of creating a "homeschool classroom" replete with dumbed down textbooks. we use real books, not textbooks. as a former/current teacher, i think that most textbooks are crap, regardless of which political or religious interest has published them. recent reports on the incredible amount of errors in them supports my opinion.

now, finding a homeschooling social circle that isn't infested with people afraid of Halloween is another issue altogether. this is my most repetitive barroom rant.
posted by RedEmma at 9:17 PM on March 11, 2008


Say hi to the big 'C' for me when you see him on the streets of R'lyeh.

A simple Hi, Larry will do. Otherwise, consult medical authorities in the case of an erection lasting more than four hours.
posted by y2karl at 9:19 PM on March 11, 2008


Salvia can be like marijuana, depending on how you take it. Siebert sells ethanol tinctures, meant to be taken sublingually. Done that way, there's no aversive qualia, and a very mild experience broadly similar to smoked pot.
posted by daksya at 11:58 PM on March 11, 2008


Salvia can be like marijuana, depending on how you take it. Siebert sells ethanol tinctures, meant to be taken sublingually. Done that way, there's no aversive qualia, and a very mild experience broadly similar to smoked pot.

Hey, thanks for that. I ordered some, will see how it goes. A mild salvia experience sounds like it could be fun. If I start posting to Metafilter about the Tree People taking me to the Gate of Existence Itself, we'll know it didn't work as planned. I've already met the self-transforming machine elves, though, so I'm ready for anything.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:57 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've already met the self-transforming machine elves

And this is why I was looking for DMT.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:12 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


People who are absolutely sure their particular brand of reality is the only valid model are scared to death that something might prove them wrong. At some level, they realize that their basic understanding is a house of cards that will collapse with the right prodding, and that thought makes them skid-mark their undies. The continued existence of their reality bubble is threatened and they will rabidly and irrationally fight against the perceived threat, logical considerations be damned.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:54 AM on March 12, 2008


So named because the creators of South Park are like this (despite the fact they're pushing 40), and many of the episodes have some political message reflecting their uninformed, juvenile opinions.

And here I thought the message was always about choosing not to put faith (in religion, government, political parties, celebrities, "grownups," etc.) ahead of skepticism and critical thinking. Thanks for clearing that up!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:19 AM on March 12, 2008


Are they going to ban all those, too? How about morning glory? Pretty soon you won't be able to buy anything at the nursery without a permit.

Sure, after we've been processed through the modified abattoirs slung low with rows of bung guns retrofitted to extract our pineal glands like the pit from a cherry.

Vote Obama!

Certainly there is no societial harm in people thinking of themselves as being "one with the universe" for a few minutes?
"Now if that isn’t a hazard to this country, you see my point. How are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons, you know what I mean? What’s gonna happen to the arms industry when we realize we’re all one? Hahahahaha! It’s gonna fuck up the economy, the economy that’s fake anyway! Which would be a real bummer, you know.

You can see why the government’s cracking down… on the idea of experiencing unconditional love. Isn’t it interesting that the two drugs that are legal – alcohol and cigarettes – the two drugs that do absolutely nothing for you whatsoever... and drugs that grow naturally upon this planet, drugs that open your eyes up to make you realize how you’re being fucked every day of your life... those drugs are against the law? Wow! Coincidence? I don’t know, I’m sure their motives are pure."
-Bill Hicks
I've taken lots of hallucinogens, but salvia is the only one where I've met and talked to an entity who I couldn't otherwise dismiss as some aspect of my own personality.

Damn, you aren't taking enough.

I'm so sick of these "new LSD" analogies in these articles, it conjures up a very violent reaction. I'm inspired to dispense blunt mechanical trauma to the authors skull, hard enough so they could feel it ring like I did after cashing that bowl in three huge consecutive rips, zeroing them out while watching my vision fade off as the pins and needles consumed my consciousness. Not the same ballpark, not even the same goddamn sport, bud.
posted by prostyle at 7:52 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sounds exciting. Are there no valuable experiential comparisons to draw here? Has anyone played in the realm of psychedelics enough to claim - is it more or less like ayahuasca, with substantial shorter span? Or psilocybin? (I realize this is a subjective arena...)
posted by iamck at 8:47 AM on March 12, 2008


Or psilocybin?

Granted I only had one experience with salvia, but even from others explanations of theirs it seems quite different from psilocybin. It has similar other wordly effects, but the fun/playful aspect with psilocybin isn't there. That and the obvious difference in the time the effects last.
posted by Big_B at 9:09 AM on March 12, 2008


Perhaps the reason it's being pursued or banned isn't actually a war for your consciousness?

Maybe it's just that another drug scourge = more funding for law enforcement.
posted by dubold at 9:33 AM on March 12, 2008


time to stock up.

america sucks more every day.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 9:43 AM on March 12, 2008


Ms. nobeagle once did salvia, having read up before, and listened to my many tales of salvia. I think she only had a level 2, level 3 trip at best (out of 4). Like many she found the experience distinctly disturbing, but every 2-3 months or so, she'd start reconsidering if she wanted to try it again.

I find myself wanting to try it approximately once a year or so. The issue is that I'm not really a fan of the level 2-3 trips. If I had to try to explain, it's like level 4 is where one goes into hyperspace and meets Lady S (she's often a moving black shadowy entity admist brilliant neon scenary, so Shadow works as well as Salvia), and level 2-3 are the painful twisting trying to get into hyperspace. Level 4 is the sole reason to do Salvia IMO.

As well, I *always* get hit with the amnesia that I just fucking took something when I'm in stage 2, so I start to feel like I'm getting flipped inside and out repeatedly, and that I'm dead/dying, and I only really have access to memories from when I'm about 16 or under. Oddly when I hit stage 4, I regain all memory, including that Yes, I am tripping.

And I dislike having a sitter, other than maybe simply having someone take the pipe from my hand as gravity overwhelms my body. I lie there, and maybe try to roll over a bit, but I present no danger to anyone, or myself, and hearing someone's voice detracts from the experience. None the less, apparently some people are more capable of movement than I.

Be *very* careful with the music in the background.
posted by nobeagle at 9:55 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Delaware’s deputy chief medical examiner, Dr. Adrienne Sekula-Perlman, altered his death certificate to include Salvia divinorum use as a contributing cause of his death.

Which makes her... ah yes, a quack.

nthing what others have said. Salvia does not induce the giggles. It will not have you singing to yourself. It is not a party drug, it is not a 'fun' drug. Me? I got the breakdown of space and time perception, and saw a tear in the fabric of reality in the gap under a door. Afterwards, I was very, very quiet.

In other news, booze is cheap, easily obtainable and has been getting people killed for doing stupid shit since forever.
posted by holgate at 10:49 AM on March 12, 2008


It seems like the government has a list of things that instantly cause uproar. Say, 'drugs' and 'high'. Or 'video games' and 'sex'. 'Television' and 'nudity'.
posted by graventy at 10:51 AM on March 12, 2008


I've tried a lot of different preparations, and noticed only marginal effects. But I love growing the plant. Beautiful, fast growing, velvety-leafed, does well indoors too because it loves shade, in fact, you want to keep it out of sunny windows. Get one while you can.
posted by telstar at 11:55 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was finally able to break through on salvia (after a few failed attempts), all of reality became a giant loaf of bread. Every few seconds, a pair of white gloved hands would slice away a bit of reality with a giant knife and set it aside. Someone asked if I was okay, and I must've said "I'm fi-" about 10 times, as every time I tried to say it, the bread-reality was sliced and moved aside, and my body would physically move with it.

It was fun, I guess.
posted by kryptondog at 12:56 PM on March 12, 2008


December Boy: I've already met the self-transforming machine elves
mrmojoflying: And this is why I was looking for DMT.
You and me both; I'd done ayahuasca in the past, but that was years ago. I posted an AskMe about it once, bought some plants, made a brew... and I puked and passed out. Not fun times, and no machine elves/cosmic enlightenment. I'd really like to get some good, reliable DMT but no luck. Hey, if salvia is even remotely as "challenging" as I recall ayahuasca, I suppose I should give it a try.
posted by hincandenza at 1:36 PM on March 12, 2008


Some lawmakers won't sleep while there's anything that's legal.
posted by oaf at 1:44 PM on March 12, 2008


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