Salvia: A Legal But Dangerous High - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/8/07

Salvia: A Legal But Dangerous High

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There's a new drug teenagers are using and ending up in emergency rooms. It's called salvia.

Now, don't panic if you enjoy that plant in your yard every summer with its pretty blue or red flowers. There are hundreds of derivatives of salvia. 

We are concerned about one type that you won't find at a nursery. Instead, some stores in Lubbock are selling salvia as an herb. Some teens are smoking it to get high. Nicole

We found several videos on YouTube of teens smoking an herbal drug called salvia. Users tell us when you smoke salvia; it can make you lose your mind. And what's scary is that Lubbock teens and college students are using this drug.

Salvia is smoked out of a pipe and you can get high within minutes. It's a high some users find very disturbing.

We talked with a local man who didn't want to be identified but says he experienced dangerous effects after smoking salvia.  He says, "I just remember getting up and saying somebody shot me in the mouth. I could feel my head was hurting, my mouth was blown off. I thought I was dead, for real. I thought I was dead." 

Parents may be alarmed to know this is a drug you don't get from a street dealer. One man says, "I could go to the corner store and buy it right now. It's pretty powerful stuff."

The hardest part of getting your hands on salvia is actually finding a store in Lubbock that sells it, which actually isn't that hard. One store is located right across from the Texas Tech campus, in fact NewsChannel 11 bought salvia from that store.

The clerk asked for proof of age to make sure the reporter was 18 years or older. By law you don't have to be 18 to buy it, but out of the 20 stores in Lubbock we checked, none were selling salvia to young teens.

Doctor Chris Piel who works in the emergency room at University Medical Center says he doesn't know what the long term effects are. Dr. Piel says, "We do know in some cases there are dysphoric or bad highs and those people it could be a dangerous substance. We just don't know for sure. They're trying something we don't have a lot of experience with and it should be avoided."

For some of those who have smoked salvia, they agree and feel the law should be stricter. The man who didn't want to be identified says, "It shouldn't be legal. What happened to me, I don't want it to happen to anyone else.

Yet some teens and young adults see salvia as a harmless high just because it's legal. One teen says, "My friends took it and they said it's pretty intense. They said it was intense so that got my interest."

Salvia is considered a controlled substance in some states, but not here in Texas, although it is getting some attention now by Texas lawmakers

While our local representatives were not familiar with salvia, they did refer us to Texas state senator Craig Estes, a republican from Wichita Falls. He has issued a bill which would make it a crime for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase the herb.

But we're told the issue will likely not be considered by lawmakers until the 2009 legislative session.

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