A drug discovered by Mexican shamans has hooked both scientists and the YouTube set, the Houston Chronicle reports. They are tracking moves to ban Salvia divinorum, an herb-based hallucinogen used spiritually by Mazatec Indians, and increasingly popular among teens and college-age students, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Scientists hope the drug, sometimes referred to as “diviners sage” and “magic mint,” might lead to new treatments for some of the worst diseases.
Available at smoke shops and from Internet distributors, Salvia has been spotted in Texas school districts. It still is legal in most places. The drug is getting the most attention at the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube, where mostly younger contributors have posted nearly 60 new clips of their Salvia “trips” in the past week. Typically, Salvia’s effects last for a couple of minutes to an hour – much shorter than hallucinogens such as LSD. Users often appear incoherent and talk of out-of-body experiences. At least six states and eight countries have passed laws regulating Salvia. Delaware legisaltors last year approved “Brett’s Law,” named for Brett Chidester, a 17-year-old who committed suicide after he started taking Salvia. His parents have sued the Internet companies that sold him the drug.