Indiana's Legal High: Teens Turned On To Powerful Drug

Salvia Readily Available In Indiana

A powerful, hallucinogenic plant is growing in popularity in Indiana and is drawing concern in other states.

Just a few puffs of Salvia divinorum, also known as Sally D., Magic Mint or Diviner's Sage, provide a short, powerful and sometimes debilitating trip, 6News' Todd Wallace reported.

Salvia is legal in Indiana, and young adults are increasingly using the drug to get high. It is not the same plant as the one some Hoosiers have in their gardens, though it is from the same family.

The plant provides a quick high that some have compared to LSD, and it's readily accessible to anyone.

Mazatec Indians in Mexico used salvia in traditional ceremonies for hundreds of years. It has been gaining popularity as a "meditational herb," and, in some cases, a quick, legal high.

People, young and old, have posted hundreds of videos on YouTube of themselves taking the drug and sharing the experience with the world.

In Indianapolis, salvia is available at J&A Smoke Shop, on the city's south side, among other places.

"We have seen a wide variety of people come in to purchase the salvia," said Zack Sidler, a salesman at the store.

"It's sold as an herbal meditational supplement," said James Garrison, owner of J&A.

Garrison said he cards buyers, even though he doesn't have to. Indiana law allows anyone to purchase the herb.

"It's for adults. It's not for kids. It's adult consumption, you know, 18 or older," Garrison said.

6News purchased salvia in several stores across Indiana, including shops in Indianapolis, Bloomington, Kokomo and Shelbyville.

Salvia is also readily available online, providing access to anyone with a credit card. Within days, dried leaves, concentrated extract and live plants were shipped to 6News.

Five different brands, some including vanilla and peach varities, were purchased in a couple of days. The easy access is what makes salvia so attractive to children.

Drug counselors said they are worried salvia is a gateway drug to other harmful substances.

"Young people are going to use it, and here's the reasons why. It's legal. It doesn't show up in a drug screen," said Rachelle Gardner, Fairbanks Adolescent Services director. "It's a very intense, very short, but very intense high."

Gardner, who deals with drug addiction in her job every day, said salvia should be regulated.

"Kids are keeping it on the down low, so parents and us adults don't pick up on it and start trying to regulate it for them," Gardner said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration calls salvia a "drug of concern," and has been considering whether to make it a controlled substance for 5½ years.

Individual states are moving faster. Seven have criminalized salvia altogether. Illinois' new law takes effect Jan. 1.

Maine took a less restrictive approach, limiting sale or possession to anyone age 18 or older.

Salvia user Jon Mustard offered to take 6News on his salvia trip.

"I feel like my face is trying to go over here, and I feel like you're going over there," Mustard said, as he pointed in two directions. "Now, I'm feeling like everything's more rocking."

As the intensity of the high wore off, Mustard described how the brightly colored walls changed.

"It just went crazy on me -- kind of like if you took a painting and you took your finger across it and the paint smears," Mustard said.

"You do have to keep in it check. It's something that you do need to use responsibly," Sidler said.

Officials are beginning to take a closer look at regulating salvia in Indiana.

Watch 6News Tuesday for more on Indiana's response to salvia and the personal story of a mother who believes it played a role in her son's suicide.

DEA 'Drug Of Concern National Institute On Drug Abuse Medical Research by Dr. Bryan Roth: 1 | 2

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