As a legal drug, Salvia attracts media attention

April 29, 2006

The following is a transcript of a report by Call 4 Action reporter Aaron Saykin that first aired Nov. 17, 2006, on WTAE Channel 4 Action News, Pennsylvania, US.

Teenagers using drugs hardly comes as a shock to anyone, but one drug in particular has medical professionals stunned. The reason? It’s not against the law.

One local teen that’s used this drug compared its effect to something as strong as LSD. It makes you hallucinate almost immediately and some experts believe it’s extremely dangerous.

But for some reason, it’s perfectly legal. You can watch young adults trying it all over the Internet on sites like They’re smoking a dangerously strong and natural herb called Salvia divinorum, Latin for “Sage of those who see God.”

"It’s the most potent naturally occurring hallucinogen, and it’s totally legal at this point," said Dr. Neil Capretto.

Known as "Sally D" on the street, Salvia divinorum is a tropical plant in the mint family. It’s believed to have once been used by the Aztecs for soothing and meditation, but now it’s becoming popular again among teens, including some at Gateway Rehabilitation Center.

"After you inhale it and blow it out, it hits you all of a sudden," said one teen. "I mean, it’s like a full trip. You know what I mean? Total hallucinating."

The herb is easy to buy online and can also be found in some tobacco shops. Not believed to be physically addictive, Sally D is also not considered a "drug of first choice" that teens try over and over again. The real danger is what it’s going to do to you in any one episode," said Capretto.

Prolonged use of the drug is believed to have led to the suicide of a Delaware teen in January.

Four states, including Delaware, have banned the herb. Four others are in the process of doing so, but so far, Pennsylvania is not among them. "Something like this should not be legal and hopefully in the near future it will not be legal," said Capretto.

Call 4 Action spoke briefly on Friday to state Rep. Jake Wheatley, who sits on the Health and Human Services Committee, the committee that would take up matters like this.

Wheatley said it’s certainly something they’re going to look at.

Source: The Pittsburgh Channel

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