ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A drug that causes scary hallucinations and is completely legal in New Mexico may be making its way into the hands of kids and young teens.
"It's definitely affordable for a kid who is getting their allowance every week to buy a packet of salvia for $8," said Detective Christine Frank of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Salvia primarily grows in Mexico and is a natural herb with hallucinogenic qualities similar to LSD or mushrooms.
What is Salvia?
Salvia is a natural herb native to Mexico that is usually smoked and produces hallucinations. The official name is Salvia Divinorum but is also referred to as "Maria Pastora," "Sage of the Seers," "Diviner's Sage," "Sally-D," or "Magic Mint."
The effect is almost instantaneous and the high can last for up to 30 minutes. Users report effects which include perceptions of bright lights, vivid colors and shapes, and body or object distortions. Other effects include uncontrolled laughter, a sense of loss of body, overlapping realities and other hallucinations.
Saliva is currently not controlled by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act. However, at least 20 states have enacted laws either restricting sale and use of salvia or banning the drug altogether. New Mexico is not one of those states.
"I inhaled deep, and about 5 seconds later, I went into this spinning-type vortex," said a 21-year-old Albuquerque man. "It's kind of like I was in a merry-go-round. I couldn't move."
The man, who said he only tried the drug once, said he's seen his friends trip out on the drug, some "seizuring and trying to jump out of windows."
Evidence of erratic, scary behavior is seen on YouTube with teens uploading their trips on salvia, some screaming bloody murder and others having an out-of-body experience.
"It's very scary. It's scary that it's not banned," Frank said.
Not only is it not banned, salvia may be easy to get. A KRQE News 13 photographer went into a Westside Albuquerque smoke shop and was able to take his pick of several different levels of potency for salvia.
The most potent cost about $40. A 5-gram bag of the cheapest salvia went for just $7.99.
There was a move in the state legislature to ban salvia a few years ago, but it failed. At least 20 states have either banned salvia sales to minors or completely banned the drug, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA has discussed a potential nationwide ban, but law enforcement officials said it comes down to priority.
"Right now, spice is the priority because it is so widely abused," Frank said.
The synthetic marijuana called spice has been a big problem all over New Mexico, according to law enforcement. The DEA has cracked down on smoke shops across the metro for selling it. Teens in Portales were hospitalized after allegedly smoking the drug.
Unlike salvia, spice is illegal and can be addictive. But Frank said people smoking salvia are probably experimenting with spice.
"Their target is kids, unfortunately," Frank said. "They are the ones that are going to go in there, and they're going to be able to buy (salvia) legally and go to their home or wherever and technically smoke it legally."
Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, initially introduced the salvia ban in 2010. He told KRQE News 13 he will reintroduce the measure in next year's legislative session.
YouTube Videos of Teens Abusing Salvia
Warning: Foul language
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