Salvia: the legal weed, for now

Editor’s note: Names and identifying details of some of those interviewed have been changed.The pipe was black and white and absolutely tiny– a miniature version of something Sherlock Holmes would have smoked out of. Jake, 21, watched as his friend, Sean, 20, shook a bit of the green leafy substance into it, and pushed it down with his thumb. He handed the pipe to Jake.

“Now listen, bro,” Sean said. “You can’t smoke this stuff like you would regular herb. Pull in as much as you can and you gotta hold it in until you can’t anymore.”

Jake lit the bowl and inhaled. Woah, he thought as he pulled the smoke into his lungs. It tastes absolutely horrible. But Jake held it, and held it, and when he finally felt he had to exhale, there was nothing to exhale; all the smoke had disappeared.

“Wow,” Jake said, or tried to say.

But all that came out of his mouth was a jumble of syllables and the snort of a giggle, which quickly turned into full-on, hysterical, belly-shaking laughter that he couldn’t stop.

The drug, whose street names include Sage of the Seers, Sally-D and Magic Mint, is Salvia, and the thing is– it’s legal.

Effects of its use include perceptions of bright lights, vivid colors and shapes, dysphoria, uncontrolled laughter, a sense of loss of body, overlapping realities, hallucinations, lack of coordination, dizziness, and slurred speech.

Basically, said Wildo, 20, “Salvia is [messed] up!”

So if it’s so messed up, why smoke it? The answer to that, according to Sean, is simple. It’s legal.

“I can just walk into a store and buy it, or order it over the net. I can’t do that with pot. Yet.”

Wildo, who says he smokes pot every day, has only used the drug a few times, stating that he doesn’t really enjoy Salvia because the trip is too intense and overwhelming.

While it may seem like Salvia is just appearing to the drug scene, the truth is it’s been around since the Mazatec Indians began using it for its ritual divination and healing.

Wildo heard about the drug from some friends who said they really liked it. So it talked to his local head shop owner who gave him some information about it before he tried it.

Gretchen, 26, who smokes pot on a regular basis, said she had never heard of Salvia, but would definitely try it “because it’s legal, so why not?”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, salvia divinorium is a perennial herb in the mint family that is native to certain areas of Mexico.

“The first time I used it” Wildo said, “Nothing really happened. I got all sweaty. My body felt like it was floating. It was rather relaxing, minus the sweating part. It only lasted like that for about 10 minutes. But after it left me feeling relaxed. The first time I “tripped: off of it is hard to explain. It was mostly visual but it also changed perspective of my mind. There were bright swirling colors and common objects turned into different forms. I don’t know how long it lasted like this, but it was “intense”.

Currently, Salvia is not controlled under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but as of October 2009, fourteen states have enacted legislation placing regulatory controls on its use or distribution. In 2007, the town of Middlebury banned the sale of the substance and is currently facing a lawsuit from the owner of Emporium Tobacco & Gift Shop, whose Middlebury location closed after the ban.

As to how popular Salvia is, an employee of the store’s Rutland location, who gave his name as Jim, said they sell about a hundred “units” a month.

Angela, 21, has heard of Salvia but has never tried it.

“But,” she adds, “I knew a girl once who said she bought some online smoked it with her brother and he drooled everywhere.or something.

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