If Salvia Isn’t Toxic or Addictive, What’s the Argument for Banning it?

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The New York Times has a fascinating piece on the growing hysteria surrounding salvia. Researchers are studying its medical potential, college kids are tripping on YouTube, and state legislators are trying to outlaw it entirely.

All of this may soon provoke an illustrative glimpse at the philosophical dimensions of drug prohibition, in that salvia is powerfully psychoactive, yet shows no signs of addictiveness or toxicity. It isn’t causing crime or medical emergencies. The short duration of its effects allows users to indulge without becoming incapacitated to the point of impacting their daily lives. In short, salvia simply doesn’t fit into the pre-existing categories that drug warriors have carved out in order to justify prohibitions against other popular recreational drugs. So what will they say about it?

Though states are moving quickly, Bertha K. Madras, a deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said federal regulators remained in a quandary.

"The risk of any drug that is intoxicating is high," Dr. Madras said. "You're one car ride away from an event that could be life-altering. But in terms of really good studies, there is just very little. So what do you do? How do you make policy in the absence of good hard cold information?"

Is that a trick question? I give up, Bertha. How? This is the same woman who opposed distributing overdose prevention kits, based on the theory that overdoses might be good for people. So I'm sure she’ll eventually find a solution here that won’t require copious doses of scientific methodology. Rarely in the history of the war on drugs have facts or common sense ever gotten in the way of someone trying to outlaw something. Tell Joe Biden it makes you think you’re a unicorn and he’ll have the Saving American Lives from Volatile Intoxicants Act on your desk by nightfall.

But if salvia is ultimately banned at the federal level simply because it makes you insanely high for 5 minutes, one might interpret that as a long-awaited acknowledgement that the war on drugs really is just an attempt to control our minds.
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It's hilarious that there is

It's hilarious that there is a psychoactive drug that is 100% legal in our market. This will remain legal until some intoxicated dumbass drives himself into a wall under the influence of salvia. Then it will be prohibited along with all the others.

and not just any psychoactive drug

it's one of the most extremely powerful hallucinogens known to man. And it's completely legal!!!! It's a very bizarre thing, and something which would (hopefully) make anybody reflect upon the drug war.

ummm...im pretty sure DMT is

ummm...im pretty sure DMT is the most powerful hallucinogen, far more then salvia.


I woke up "sick" this morning. After two cups of coffee and a cigarette I am now "well". I wonder how many "intoxicated dumbasses" under the influence of alcohol drove into walls across the U.S. yesterday alone? Considering that some 20,000 to 30,000 people a year are killed by drunk drivers here I must assume that driving into walls should not be considered a serious liability in regard to the use of any particular drug.

Not that hilarious...

"until some intoxicated dumbass drives himself into a wall"

Because of course it's only the dumb asses that do that.  All the highly educated, intelligent salvia tripsters would know better.  Riiiight.  Sure I get that 99.9% of the population would stay away from a car as it's common sense, but in order to be legal it must be so safe that virtually anyone can use it wtihout problems.  And yes, if you give it out to everyone, some "dumbass" will eventually find a way to take a hit, think it's not working right off, and then operate his car.  OR someone will try to take a low dose so that they can perhaps still drive.  Only to find it it hits them harder than they were expecting.   And even though most people are out for like 4 minutes.  It effects some people for hours and instead of blacking out, they can do things.  Not a cool combo to have someone tripping and driving a car.  So yes, I hope it at least controlled in some way. 


I'm sure there will be a Salvia Madness movie before it's all said and don

"To Hell and Back in 5 Minutes", "Salvia is not your Salvation!"

I'm sure we can dust off some of those old anti-drug commericials of the girl diving into an empty swimming pool.

"This is not your parent's LSD"

I'm waiting for someone from ONDCP to say that.

Big Pharma

I have no doubt that the pharmaceutical industry supports this kind of legislation. After all, if chronic pain patients like me could find pain relief from plants, we wouldn't be buying their riduculously overpriced narcotics--which are, of course, all artificial versions of (illegal) plant-based medicine. GRRRRR.

A car ride away?

I don't know if any of you have tried salvia, but I'd imagine the concept of driving couldn't even be comprehended or thought of while under the influence. Let alone getting the right key in the right way......
I'm not absolutely sure about this but isn't salvia one of those plants that builds up tolerance very fast to where if you were to try and stay "tripping" the whole day your tolerance would be too high??

Cars and Tolerance

I think driving and salvia would only be a real concern if you started smoking after you're already driving....but so far, there's never been a reported car accident involving Salvia. I'm not positive on the numbers, but I think people have had accidents due to alcohol (and even text messaging----that train crash in CA last week might turn out to be the deadliest texting related accident in history)!

As far as tolerance goes, Salvia is often said to be "reverse-tolerant", meaning the effects kick in EASIER the more you do it...but I haven't come across any experience reports to support this, allow from personal experience I would say that it doesn't seem to build tolerance....

Wanted for High Crimes Against Humanity

“So what do you do? How do you make [drug] policy in the absence of good hard cold information?"—Deputy Director Bertha K. Madras, ONDCP

How about “In doubt if an action be just, abstain...”—Zoroaster (6th Century BCE)

Maybe the good-hard-cold data that Dr. Madras needs to become pro-Salvia Divinorum doesn’t exist yet.  Maybe it never will.  Perhaps in the meantime she can take her cue regarding what to do about salvia from international humanitarian law.

Section II Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter (1945) reads:

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility: … 

       (c) Crimes Against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated [Emphasis added].

Since no reasonable justification for banning safe salvia use exists, not even one that claims without evidence to protect public health, the only reasons left for prohibiting salvia and other illicit drugs fall into categories that are political, racial and religious; making any such persecution of citizens for possessing salvia and similarly benign psychotropic drugs, by the standard international definition, a crime against humanity.

Under those parts of the Geneva Conventions based upon Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, laws prohibiting humanitarian crimes outweigh the laws of the respective countries that support and encourage the crimes against humanity.

Whether the phrase ‘war on drugs’ is or is not a metaphor, an actual or declared war need not exist for humanitarian laws to remain in effect.  Individuals themselves, not the countries or their respective governments, are held responsible for the commission of humanitarian crimes.

Thanks to the Nuremberg trials, a universal jurisdiction exists in humanitarian law.  Universal jurisdiction means that any nation has the legal power to prosecute humanitarian crimes, and it doesn’t matter in which country the offense took place.

Drug warriors should remain open to the fact that should society one day view drug prohibition as a legal ploy that cannot be justified beyond right wing politics, institutionalized racism, and religious fanaticism and dominionism, they risk being indicted by world opinion with the blessings of the International Criminal Court.  Leading drug warriors even risk being arrested the moment they set foot on foreign soil.  Stranger things have happened in politics.  Let us hope strangeness prevails.


Regulate Salvia Now

What part of this don't you understand - Salvia is the world's most potent hallucinogen, stronger than LSD. This is proven by research. It targets a receptor in the brain that controls consciousness, our perception of reality and is located in the neurons that play a major role in depression, drug abuse and schizophrenia. The first human studies were completed in June and have shown it causes depression in continued use.

I have a close friend whose kid is struggling w/ salvia use. He feels that it's addictive and he has now graduated on to harder drugs. It's a gateway drug that can suck anyone in. They may not feel it's long reaching effects immediately but they most certainly will over time.

It's very sad that this is just another problem for our kids to struggle with.Absolutely, NO WAY SHOULD IT BE LEGAL.

Contradicting Headline with Final Sentencing

I thought I'd be in agreement with your headline of "Regulate Salvia Now". Then you conclude your blog with bold lettering not to legalize it. If you're concern about kids getting the stuff, they would have a hardest time obtaining Salvia if it were legal and regulated. What about your concern of a kid's ruined future over a drug conviction?

Many kids abuse alcohol and go on to lead productive lives without the stigma of an arrest or barred from financial aid to college. Is that the way you want Salvia to be handled? Criminalize another temptation to kids in the name of the war on drugs.

Main point is there NEEDS to be some controls

"If you're concern about kids getting the stuff, they would have a hardest time obtaining Salvia if it were legal and regulated."

It wouldn't make it any harder for them if it were illegal.  If it's regulated and they are not allowed to have it, a few will find a way.  If it's it's 100% illegal, and no one can have it, then still, a few kids will find a way to get it. And also the adults will find a way etc.

The point is that something must be done to either regulate it or make it illegal.  The benefit of doing this is only that it shows people it's not safe enough to give out like candy.  In being regulated, a percentage of people will avoid using it, knowing it can be bad in a way.  As for the ones that decide to go ahead and use it, they will do so knowing they were told not to.  And in doing that, they will realize there are risks and they are risk takers.

But to make to not do anything and have it be a free for all with NOTHING said?  That would be a disservice to all.  If there are problems with it, I WANT TO BE TOLD!   Then I can make my own decision as to whether or not I should take a risk.  Same with LSD.  There are risks.  I like knowing about them.  I'd be mad if no one ever warned me about anything.

If govt doesn't control it, criminals will....

...and we know they will do a better job of it and have children's best interest in mind.

Salvia addict

I tried Salvia today and got hooked. I'm really depressed now so I think I'll try shooting speedballs.

Federal Agents Posting Anonymous Blogs As Supposed Citizens

The disinformation regarding salvia divinorum that was posted by "Anonymous" is patently false. It is not very potent unless greatly concentrated and should not be regulated by the corrupt Federal Government. Even if it were as potent as L.S.D. as the anonymous Federal Agent states, the laws against that sustance were also based on pure hysteria and the influence of extremist "religious" cults within the Federal Government.Anything that increases the awareness of the people is bad for our lying, treasonous Government.

What have you been smoking? Our Bill of Rights?

1. Salvia IS NOT the "world's most potent hallucinogen, stronger than LSD!" Apparently, you've done neither. LSD is much stronger and has a much longer duration! I tried salvia once, and it is by no means addictive. Maybe the problem is some people's personalities allow them to get addicted to anything!

2. It targets the kappa opioid receptor. SO WHAT? Your brain produces DMT, endogenous opiates and cannabinoids, among myriad others! Like it or not, you and everyone else has "illegal" drugs coursing through their veins all day, every day. Get your facts straight, no one here falls for panicked propaganda - are you sure your last name isn't Walters?

3. Your studies: I don't know what studies you've read, but Salvinorin A is being considered for use as an anti-depressant!

4.You still hang on to the laughable "gateway theory." Have you ever drank a beer or smoked a cigarette? Did you end up destitute and mentally ill? Guess what, sex, food, alcohol, adrenaline ALL "suck people in!" Are you SURE your last name isn't Walters?

5. I'll bet the real problem "your friend's kid" is facing is that of an ignorant parent trying to scare the hell out of him or her! In the end, by using scare tactics based on ignorance and bias, I guarantee "your friend's kid" will only do more, and stronger, drugs!

6. Why don't you leave us thinking people alone, and go visit ONDCP's site. You can find some really good, strong, anti-drugs over there, from what I hear...

Actually the studies that

Actually the studies that they have done on salvia have shown that out of most cases people come out of it with a lower risk of depression than they had before. A very small percentage had the opposite effects. I researched it fully before I ever tried it. I have done it only a few times since because of the sometimes extreme visual affects.

Salvia lasts for 5 to 10 minutes long and it depends on the person on how it affects them. Websites require you to have a credit card to purchase it and in head-shops they will card you. If your kid is under 18 and is doing it, then the reality of it is you're not being a good parent. It's your responsibility to watch who they hang around and what they do. After 18 parents need to accept what their kids do, because they are adults and need to make their own decisions and mistakes. Make it illegal and watch the usage shoot through the roof. The prices aren't cheap, people can get other drugs cheaper, that is why it isn't that huge of a thing.

While it is an extremely strong hallucinigen there are obviously ones worse. LSD's trips may not be quite as severe as Salvia's can be but they last many many times longer. Five minutes of it and its over. No overdosing and no proven addiction. Authorities would be stupid to illegalize it with no strong evidence.

so dont take it

-Salvia may be the worlds most potent hallucinogen, but it is still MUCH safer than LSD for LSD's effects can last around 15 hours (obviously encouraging people to drive or attend school/work under its effects) - Salvia lasts a pathetic 5 minutes on average, and after 15 minutes the user is back to normal.

-And yes, Salvia does alter consciousness, perception of reality, and fiddle with neurons - if you don't like that, don't take it. Every human being has the RIGHT to do with their body as they choose especially something as harmless as salvia. Have you never consumed alcohol? What about tobacco? What about all the innocent lives they have consumed? The world is in need of revolutionizing its ideals and looking past cultural relativism... WHAT IS, IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT OUGHT TO BE...

-Never heard of that June study, but even if it may be true salvia has also been proven to cause IMPROVED mood for as long as 48 hours. I'm quite sure theres no studies regarding schizophrenia either. It has been proven that LSD and canabis can contribute to the development of psychosis in an individual over lifetime use, however salvia interferes with a different kind of receptor and therefore, this assumption cannot be made.

-I have to agree salivia is a gateway drug, but is salvia to be blamed for that someone who moves onto LSD, drives, and dies in an accident, or is the negligence of that individual's education system to teach him/her of the negative effects of various drugs. What about their personal responsibility. Our government teaches us to be responsible with alcohol and tobacco, why could we not do the same with salvia?

-Salvia is a very non-addictive drug and FAR from a party drug. Perhaps your friend's child is obtaining it from an unreliable source, perhaps its lined with nicotine...Salvia should remain legal and regulated to be sure such occurances never happen AND it should be strongly taxed! If this was the case, perhaps your friend wouldn't have this problem.

-The drinking age is 21+ and is more strongly enforced in The United States than any other country in the world. Why shouldn't the same apply to salvia?


I'm 58 yrs old, and have been smoking salvia for about eight or nine years. It's the antithesis of an "addicting drug"--whoever told you salvia is addicting is either lying or pathetically misinformed. You're merely parroting this crap. You have no idea what you're talking about.

you're a moron

Salvia is not as dangerous as you think. Yes it may be a hallucinogen but it is one of the safest ones. Alcohol is more destructive than salvia. It certainly does not cause depression in continued use. People are just looking for a reason to make it out to be bad. Just like they did with Marijuana, and yet I've still yet to see the statistics on marijuana related deaths, overdosed, and etc. And for you to sit here and say that you know a friend who has a kid who struggles with Salvia use and its addictive is a complete lie. Its all natural and in no way is it harmful nor addictive as it does not contain any addictive chemicals or properties. If it is such a harmful drug why don't you pull up the statistics on Salvia overdoses and salvia induced related deaths, homocides, suicides, and etc. The fact of the matter is that you can't. I love reading posts from people like you who want to lead the army against "illegal" drugs when the fact of the matter is that two legal drugs on the market right now (alcohol and tobbacco) are way more destructive than a simple naturally grown organic plant. You are just another closed minded moron who reads an article online and believes everything about it without doing your own research.

Taking the Fun Out of Life

These psychopathic people would completely ban video games over one death. My goodness. How many people have even indirectly died from salvia? One? Zero?

Scott Morgan, I love the last sentence of your post. Very true.


I write so many sentences. It's wonderful to know that they are being enjoyed.

Danger as a pretext for illegality

Stop bringing this argument up folks. Dangerous products are for sale all over the United States. We allow adults to smoke tobacco, ride motorcycles and enlist in the military, all of which are more dangerous to your health than some illegal drugs. A products relative safety isn't up for argument in a free society. In a free society adults decide what behaviors in which they engage and they deal with the consequences.

Salvia more powerful than LSD?

I don't know where you guys buy your acid, but I'm pretty sure you got burned.

It is more powerful

A very strong salvia trip can produce complete visionary states (being practically completely transported into another dimension), but it only lasts five to ten minutes. Acid is not nearly as intense but lasts twelve hours. Amazingly, salvia seems to be relatively harmless; at least so far (except for the fact that it can be very scary).


It seems like the only people who support this new drug are the people who are obsessed with drugs in general. These same people also fail to see the harm it can do to those who decide to try it because they want yet another dangerous hallucinogen to try. For the ones who say its the parents fault for not watching their kids better, well it seems that the majority of you are just failures and people in general who just want to fight the system.

We are the failures?

if your going to call this a dangerous drug why don't you back up your information. if bad things actually happened from salvia much more would be said about its bad effects. rather than just speculation and assumptions. at least all the "drug addicts" can back up what they say. they seem to write intelligently and actually stand up for themselves. i don't see how you can call someone like that a failure. i bet most of the people here are university or college grads who just enjoy all the things given to us on this earth. i think the failures are the people who are allowing all of our rights to slowly be taken away. and there would be no reason to fight the system if someone ruling over the people could do it properly. democracy is about what the people want so if something is not right its our job to change it.

for the most part its kids who have bad parents that use salvia as a gateway drug. its the ones with bad parents or bad circumstances that use drugs as an escape from their problems. so if salvia was illegal they would just use something else. and if all the drugs that have no bad effects become illegal and are impossible to get off the street they will still use something even if its paint thinner or gasoline. why cant the drugs which are not harmful or minimally harmful be legal to prevent worse harm. i mean you all vote for which politician is the least bad not which is good. not everything can be solved by making things illegal. problems will always exist in society so why not make them the least harmful. plus jail is not the answer for problems, sending people to jail for everything costs lots of money and does not actually solve the problem. anyone who took sociology of youth crime would understand that most problems come from poor parenting or circumstances. and prison or the threat of prison time makes things much worse.

also this drug is not new. just like any plant its been around for thousands of years and aboriginals in mexico would use it. if there were bad effects from salvia they would not have used it for so long before we found it. i do think people need to smarten up and use it for its good qualities rather than trying to get as high as possible, my opinion was a ban on the concentrated forms of salvia then the potential for abuse goes down since it is not as strong in its natural form. its a very nice relaxant and meditative aid in lower doses. it can also help with depression and pain. why cant people see the good side of things. just cause it changes how the world is perceived some people instantly reject it. it isn't even logical

Up-to-date salvia statistics

Here is a good resource to keep an eye on the current Salvia usage trends. It tracks the use of this substance in all counties of the United States.

Salvia Divinorum statistics in the United States

gateway drug?

i decided it would be a good idea to try salvia the other night.

in fact, i believed i was totally and completely aware of its capabilities and how i would react.

lets get a few points straight,
1) i believe salvia SHOULD be legal forever.

2) a gateway drug? are you people nuts, if anything my first use of the drug was a kick in the ass telling me to stop doing drugs!

if anyone has heard of the saying, you always need to respect yourself, and the drugs you are using.
never for a moment think you can control a drug and its effects on you, i found out the hard way. salvia kicked my ass. i was seeing things for 10 min, and in my mind i wasn't moving, but according to the people around me i didn't stop moving.

my point in all this?

its a hardcore drug. you need to respect the drug, and know what its capable of. its a great way to experience a new world, a new dimension. its an experience i will never forget, and im glad i did it. i couldn't imagine being on a trip like that for more than 15 minuets though.

The philosophical dimensions of drug prohibition

"All of this may soon provoke an illustrative glimpse at the philosophical dimensions of drug prohibition". (Scott Morgan)

I wish. There are no evidences of any problems related to Salvia divinorum. Where does the very idea of making Salvia illegal come from? For a scientist, the Salvia Youtube videos give a testimony that when consumed in the worst conditions it leads, in the worst case, to some bruises and nightmares.

After studying it during years, I have done 576 experiences, all described in diaries. It is as interesting, and dangerous, as dreams. It is quite different yet, and hard to describe. When you learn some skill in the dosage and the timing, I would say, that, in a nutshell, and in my humble personal opinion, it is the Nectar of the Gods :)

"But if salvia is ultimately banned at the federal level simply because it makes you insanely high for 5 minutes, one might interpret that as a long-awaited acknowledgement that the war on drugs really is just an attempt to control our minds" (Scott Morgan)

If that is the case we have to prosecute them, or run away, or attempt a democratic revolution, or something. But would that not be contradictory with the Constitution which guaranties the right to search happiness? Would America abandon Freedom or what?

If a drug is something harmful and addictive, then it is not known that Salvia is a drug. On the contrary, the evidences are more in favor of the idea that Salvia may be an excellent medication, perhaps the best, to cure the abuses of all sorts.

If their goal is the banning of being high, we have to stop them before they ban church, yoga, humor, mathematics, alpinism, music, planes, hubble, dreams, movies, etc. The high of salvia is closer to alpinism than to alcohol, but much less dangerous, than alpinism, and than alcohol.

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