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Debating Salvia - The Latest Legal Drug Craze

by Dore Frances, MA, founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC
It causes an experience similar to acid. And it can be purchased online by anyone, of any age. It's called "salvia", and it's a legal drug of which few people are aware.

"They feel very out of control; it's very scary. They will literally have blackouts, and what we are seeing is a lot of people having accidents because they lose their coordination. They aren't able to think clearly, so we are seeing people fall, stumble, hurt themselves, and have driving accidents." - Heather Hayes, LPC, drug counselor

A Los Angeles substance abuse treatment center is seeing a rise of salvia use; people are reporting adding salvia to their routines of marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy. No study proves the plant causes long term damage.

However advisors at the center warn that the drug can "leave users upset and contribute to pre-existing emotional problems."

Today, more teenagers are smoking a powerful hallucinogenic herb that is native to Mexico. It is a potent drug, the effects are almost instantaneous, and because it is legal in most states, it has caught the attention of lawmakers around the country. The state of California is taking notice of the trend.

It's considering a bill that would make the selling and distributing of salvia to a minor a misdemeanor. A dozen states have outlawed or begun regulating the hallucinogenic drug "salvia" since 2005, including Delaware, whose law was pushed by a mother who believed salvia contributed to her son's suicide.

Salvia Divinorum, a strong hallucinogen that is legal in most states, is readily available to teens everywhere over the Internet. Online salvia dealers are reaching out to teenagers by marketing salvia as a completely safe, non addictive, spiritually enhancing herb.

Many sites warn buyers that they must be eighteen to purchase salvia but there is no way to verify age online. When the teen has a credit card then the dealers will sell them the salvia.

A typical warning on a website selling salvia is at the very bottom of the page in small print and reads something like; by purchasing this item, the buyer certifies they are 18 or older and responsible. The teenagers searching for salvia online, even if they are 18, will most likely not be responsible because they are searching out a strong drug which they can smoke or ingest to produce a psychedelic high. Most teens that are looking to escape from reality by using drugs are not responsible.

Therefore the responsibility falls on the online dealer because dealers need to know better than to sell a dangerous drug online that teens can have access to. We all hope for our children to grow up to be happy, healthy young adults, but despite our best intentions, there are no guarantees. As your child goes from the tween years to the teen years, can you detect signs of a troubled child early on? Signs of a troubled teen:

  • Your teen has stolen money from your purse on regular occasions.
  • Your teen has extreme mood swings, from depression to elation, and seems to sleep a lot more than usual at times.
  • Your child becomes more secretive, and it seems like more than a desire for greater privacy.
  • Your child's grades have suddenly dropped and the child has lost interest in the usual activities.
  • Your teen has regular, sudden outbursts of anger that are clearly unreasonable and out of proportion to whatever has caused the anger.
  • Your teen regularly misses curfew, does not show up when expected, and lies about his or her whereabouts (is not where you expected them to be if you check up on them).
  • Your teenager has suddenly changed his or her peer group and hasn't made an effort to let you meet these new friends.. The new group has led to a distinct change in appearance (clothing, jewelry) and change in attitude (more sullen, defiant, hostile).

Salvia divinorum has no approved medical uses in the US.

In the US, plant material is either chewed or smoked.

When chewed, leaf mass and juice are maintained within the cheek area with absorption occurring across the lining of the oral mucosa (buccal). Effects first appear within 5 to 10 minutes.

Dried leaves, as well as extracts purported to be enriched with Salvinorin A, are smoked. Smoking pure Salvinorin A, at a dose of 200-500 micrograms, results in effects within 30 seconds and lasts about 30 minutes. A limited number of studies have reported the effects of using either plant material or Salvinorin A. Psychic effects include perceptions of bright lights, vivid colors and shapes, as well as body movements and body or object distortions. Other effects include dysphoria, uncontrolled laughter, a sense of loss of body, overlapping realities and hallucinations (seeing objects that are not present).

Adverse physical effects may include incoordination, dizziness and slurred speech. Salvia divinorum is chewed or smoked to induce illusions and hallucinations, the diversity of which is described by users as similar to those induced by ketamine, mescaline, or psilocybin. Salvia divinorum is grown domestically and imported from Mexico and Central and South America.

Dore Frances, IEC, MA, is an educcational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
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Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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