On Web sites touting the mind-blowing powers of salvia divinorum, come-ons to buy the hallucinogenic herb are accompanied by warnings: “Time is running out!  stock up while you still can,” the Associated Press reports. That’s because salvia is being targeted by lawmakers concerned that the inexpensive and easy-to-obtain plant could become the next marijuana. Eight states already have placed restrictions on salvia, and 16 others are considering a ban or have previously.
Some say legislators are overreacting to a minor problem, but no one disputes that the plant impairs judgment and the ability to drive. Native to Mexico and still grown there, salvia divinorum is generally smoked but can also be chewed or made into a tea. Called nicknames like Sally-D, Magic Mint and Diviner’s Sage, salvia is a hallucinogen that gives users an out-of-body sense of traveling through time and space or merging with inanimate objects. Unlike hallucinogens like LSD or PCP, however, salvia’s effects last for a shorter time, generally up to an hour. No known deaths have been attributed to salvia’s use, but it was listed as a factor in one Delaware teen’s suicide two years ago. “Parents, I would say, are pretty clueless,” said Jonathan Appel, an assistant professor of psychology and criminal justice at Tiffin University in Ohio who has studied the emergence of the substance. “It’s much more powerful than marijuana.” An ounce of salvia leaves sells for around $30 on the Internet. A liquid extract from the plant, salvinorin A, is also sold in various strengths labeled “5x” through “60x.” A gram of the 5x strength, about the weight of a plastic pen cap, is about $12 while 60x strength is around $65. Some versions comes in flavors including apple, strawberry, and spearmint.