Salvia: The Legal LSD - A Region 8 News Investigation

JONESBORO-It's a drug that's not only legal, but is so common it could be growing in your front yard.

It's known as Salvia Divinorum, and it's now being called the legal LSD.

"As soon as you take the smoke in it's extremely intense. It's nothing to play around with. It's very onset and immediate," said a Region 8 Teen who asked to remain anonymous.

For that reason teens across the nation are smoking the substance and experiencing hallucinogenic highs much like those of illegal drugs.

"You don't see things that aren't there, but you see things in a different perspective. Things don't look like they are normally perceived. They take shapes, shift, and stuff like that," said Anonymous.

The person you speaking asked to remain anonymous, but says Salvia is easily available in Region Eight.

But at least for now, it's slipped the radar of parents and law-enforcement.

"The general public doesn't know anything about it. I spoke to a group this morning. When I was finished I asked them if anyone had ever heard of it before. There was about 60 people there, and nobody had ever heard about it," said Greg Lawson, a DARE officer with Jonesboro Police.

But while adults may not be aware of Salvia and its effects, don't think adolescents don't know of its power.

In my own informal survey I visited several locations where teens hang out and asked them if they had heard of Salvia. Not only did they know what i was talking about, but nearly one in five had tried the substance.

"I was introduced to it by a group of friends who had found it at a novelty shop in Jonesboro. They wanted me to come over and try it. I figured, it's legal, so it can't be that bad. So, I tried it and it kind of threw me for a loop because I wasn't expecting it to be such an intense of a feeling," said Anonymous.

That feeling has now taken the spotlight allover the internet.

Dozens of video hosting sites now feature kids acting out their experiences while under the influence of Salvia.

"By watching the videos on You Tube and seeing the way these kids act, that in itself should be enough to outlaw it," said Lawson.

But you might be surprised to know that only seven states in the U.S. have banned the substance.

Kathleen Chidester of Wilmington, Delaware is a mother who blames Salvia for the suicide-death of her 17year old son, Brett.

"He was the model child until the time he started Salvia.  Some days I look back and I feel like he was murdered.  Almost like it wasn't suicide and that he didn't kill himself, I feel like he was murdered," said Chidester.

And while there has been no medical research to prove Salvia could cause medical problems like depression, the immediate effects are still powerful.

"You are real irritable afterwards. You just feel very uptight and very irritable," said Anonymous.

But most will deal with the after effects to experience the temporary high.

"I think they are looking for things they can do to get high from that's not going to land them in jail," said Lawson.

As a DARE officer with the Jonesboro Police Department, he says it is puzzling why kids would want to do anything like this.

"I guess I think, why would somebody want to do this in the first place. They just lose complete control and don't know what they are doing," said Lawson.

However, those who have used Salvia do not ignore it's negative side-effects.

"I do think it is a harsh drug because after you do it you can not drive. You can barely walk," said Anonymous.

And that can land you in jail, even when possession of Salvia can't.

"They could be charged with a DWI just like if they were drinking alcohol. It's going to be the same as with this or huffing or anything like that. You can still be charged and put in jail for it," said Lawson.

But for teens it's a risk they are willing to take.

"It only lasts for about five minutes. Whatever effects happen to you at that time, it's going to be gone in a minute. So, even if you do have a bad experience, it will be gone immediately. Most people who have bad experiences never want to try it again," said Anonymous.

As far as shops selling prepackaged salvia in this region, most are no longer carrying it due to the attention it has been receiving lately.

As you heard in the story, Arkansas is one of the only states in this region that has not banned Salvia.

I talked to several state representatives who tell me they are looking at the issue, but as of now it hasn't been a big enough problem in Arkansas to push for legislation against it.

Meanwhile, the U.S. D.E.A.'s office is currently conducting an eight factor analysis of Salvia to decide whether or not it should be considered a controlled substance nationwide.

Do you think Salvia should be outlawed in Arkansas or even Nationwide?  Also, were you surprised to hear about Salvia and what it's being used for?  If so, send your comments and concerns on this story to  We will post these online and on the air.