Salvia Divinorum: In the news
Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 3:33 pm
The use of hallucinogens in the United States appears to be on the rise.
Hallucinogen use first became widespread in the 1960s, especially on college campuses. Promoted by Timothy Leary, a psychology instructor at Harvard, LSD and other drugs were hailed as the source of psychic awakening, happiness, fulfillment, creativity, and other good things. As the decade passed, it became clear that bliss could not be attained simply by dropping acid, and many people experienced negative effects resulting from habitual drug use. The use of hallucinogens decreased and reached its lowest level in the mid-1980s.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, however, hallucinogen use has steadily increased. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) states on its website, “There has been a growing interest among young adults and adolescents to re-discover ethnobotanical plants” that can induce hallucinations or “mystical” experiences. The number of new hallucinogen users among those aged 12-25 doubled from about 12 per 1,000 in 1990 to about 24 per 1,000 in 1997. In the year 2000, there were about one million users of hallucinogens in the United States.
The interest in Salvia divinorum is being driven largely by the fact that it is a legal hallucinogenic substance. However, for several reasons, Salvia is not considered a substance with a high potential for abuse. The taste of the leaves is extremely bitter, and it is necessary to chew many leaves for many minutes to achieve the desired effect. Moreover, hallucinations induced by the herb are often found to be unpleasant, and many users do not seek to repeat the experience. These properties would probably discourage many potential users. While the DEA notes on its website, “Salvia is being smoked to induce hallucinations” that are similar to those caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the agency has no plans at the present time to declare the herb a controlled substance.