DALLAS — With a friend videotaping, 27-year-old Christopher Lenzini of Dallas took a hit of Salvia divinorum, regarded as the world’s most potent hallucinogenic herb, and soon began to imagine, he said, that he was in a boat with little green men. Mr. Lenzini quickly collapsed to the floor and dissolved into convulsive laughter.
When he posted the video on YouTube this summer, friends could not get enough. “It’s just funny to see a friend act like a total idiot,” he said, “so everybody loved it.”
Until a decade ago, the use of salvia was largely limited to those seeking revelation under the tutelage of Mazatec shamans in its native Oaxaca, Mexico.
Today, this mind-altering member of the mint family is broadly available for lawful sale online and in head shops across the United States.
Though older Americans typically have never heard of salvia, the psychoactive sage has become something of a phenomenon among this country’s thrill-seeking youth.Yet these very images that have helped popularize salvia may also hasten its demise and undermine the promising research into its possible medical uses.
Pharmacologists who believe salvia could open new frontiers for the treatment of addiction, depression and pain fear that its criminalization would make it burdensome to obtain and store the plant, and difficult to gain government permission for tests on human subjects. In state after state, however, including here in Texas, the YouTube videos have become Exhibit A in legislative efforts to regulate salvia. This year, Florida made possession or sale a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. California took a gentler approach by making it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute to minors.
New York Times