In the News: The Truth about Salvia and Salvia Divinorum

| 7/14/2009 4:25:54 PM


From the Baby-Out-With-the-Bathwater Department, this just in: States and local governments are rushing to outlaw salvia because of its hallucinogenic properties!

Goodbye sage dressing, goodbye pretty sages in the flower garden, goodbye … What? They’re only banning one sage species? One exceedingly uncommon species, Salvia divinorum, also known as “diviner’s sage” or “sage of the seers”? One persnickety, hard to cultivate little salvia species that likes low light, high humidity and a few thousand feet of elevation? Well, why don’t they say so?

(Click here to read more about how to keep your sage plants alive.

Photo by cdunx/Courtesy Flickr

Across all media, this story is being reported in terms like, “Salvia: High—and legal!” or “Salvia: A little-known, legal hallucinogen.” Frankly, this worries me. Maybe it’s far-fetched to think these lawmakers could be so pinheaded as to ban “salvia” without making the distinction “divinorum,” but then again, I have come to belive some of our lawmakers are not strangers to pinheaded choices.
One of my favorite genuses (genae?) is being tarred with a very broad brush and I would like you to join me in a mission: Every time you see a newspaper article or hear a bit of broadcast news discussing the new societal scourge of salvia, please contact the author or broadcaster (or, better, their bosses and sponsors) and set her or him straight: There are more than 900 salvia species in the world, found on several continents. Humankind has used salvia for hundreds of generations to heal minds and bodies in many different climates and a zillion cultures. Just because a few American kids get it in their heads to smoke one specific, uncommon species doesn’t mean the whole genus represents a threat to health, hearth and home.