Is Dangerous Hallucinogen Being Sold In Local Stores?

A drug once used for religious reasons has now found a new circle of users, and the Internet is playing a big part it its rise.

"You get visual and audio hallucinations. It’s kind of an out of body experience," said local poison expert Dr. Lee Cantrell.

Cantrell is referring to the hallucinogenic drug Salvia.

Scientists know it as Salvia Divinorum, a plant in the mint family that is grown in Mexico.

On the streets, however, it is known as "Sally D."

Saliva is a legal substance in California, but it is being compared to illegal drugs like LSD or PCP.

"It's one of the more potent naturally occurring hallucinogens," said Cantrell.

10News investigators sent a station researcher undercover to shop for Salvia.

10News researcher Ramon said, "They knew exactly what I was looking for."

Ramon said he had no trouble finding the drug, and was able to purchase it at two San Diego stores. For a 20 mg package, $26 was paid.

"They did recommend not to drive or not to operate any heavy machinery," said Ramon.

Ramon was told not to use the drug without supervision, something that both Cantrell and sources on the Internet recommend.

"The fact that this is a substance that requires a babysitter, that's a little concerning," said Cantrell.

San Diego State University alcohol and drug health educator Sue Henry said, "It's an emerging issue."

Henry said even though Salvia is being used by a small group of students, she fears the number of users could be growing.

"Why would someone want to try something when we don’t know what it might do in the short term and the long term?" said Henry.

Many Internet testimonials are convincing young adults to give Salvia a try.

One testimonial 10News found said, "Try a huge rip of Sally D with techno music blasting and a strobe light…going to love it."

Another said, "Salvia will show you amazing things. If you abuse it, it will (expletive) you over!"

10News found a testimonial that read, "There are two types of trips it gives me: One where I can talk and one where I have an out of body experience."

Henry said, "I urge caution when they are interpreting what they read online."

10News investigators have found Salvia for sale online even though it is not legal everywhere.

Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee are the four states that have banned Salvia.

Vermont, Georgia and Maine are three states considering a ban on the drug.

In California, however, it is legal.

Proposed legislation in March that would have outlawed the drug failed in a committee.

Federal agencies refused to formally comment because Salvia is a legal substance and not in their jurisdiction.

They said they don’t want to encourage drug use at all, legal or illegal.

However, they encourage parents to talk to their children and to get to them before other kids or the Internet have them experimenting with the drug.

John Mendleson, a scientist 10News spoke with at a Bay Area research center, has begun the first clinical trials for Salvia this month.

At this time, Mendleson said he opposes banning Salvia.

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