Salvia divinorum is an evergreen herb that belongs to the mint family. It looks like the common sage, but is very different. Unlike sage, this plant contains a strong hallucinogen called salvinorin A. The plant is used and abused for the hallucinogenic effects that it creates when it is ingested.
Salvia divinorum leaves are bright green with wide, paddle-shaped leaves. The stems of the plants are squared, rather than rounded. The plant reaches heights of more than 3 feet. During the spring, salvia divinorum produces blossoms in shades of white and purple.
Methods of Use
Salvia divinorum is ingested orally, through a variety of methods. Some users chew the leaves, releasing the hallucinogen directly into the soft tissues of the mouth. The leaves are often dried, and smoked or steeped for tea at a later time. Fresh or dried leaves are bruised and combined with alcohol to create a tincture to be used sublingually.
The effects of salvia divinorum are similar to those of other powerful hallucinogens (such as LSD). Users experience a disconnect from reality, and intense--often frightening--hallucinations. Unlike LSD--whose hallucinogenic trips can last for hours or days--the trip produced by salvia divinorum lasts for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
In the United States, salvia divinorum is not illegal--but the United States federal government regards the herb as a "drug of concern." On the state level, the states of Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia classify the plant as a controlled substance. Salvia divinorum is illegal in the states of Louisiana and Tennessee, "if intended for human consumption." In Suffolk County, New York, possession of salvia divinorum is a crime.
Salvia divinorum--like other hallucinogens--often causes permanent damage to the brain; this is especially true in users in their teens and 20s because the brain is still developing at this age. Lasting effects include clinical depression and schizophrenia.