Isn't Smoking Salvia Just as Bad as Pot?

salvia diviorumMiley, Miley, Miley, caught with another marijuana video again. Apparently Miley Cyrus was presented with a Bob Marley (patron saint of marijuana) birthday cake last week -- and everyone passed around the pot jokes. But hold on there, finger-waggers! Miley and her supporters say the cake was just a joke. She totally does not smoke the real stuff. She just smokes salvia, like she's claimed before. And so stop with the judgy stuff, okay?

Fine, fine, we'll go along with this "I just smoke salvia" claim. But I want to know one thing -- what the heck does smoking salvia do for you, anyway?


Salvia -- not to be confused with saliva -- is a nice, self-respecting plant related to mint. The "white sage" variety is used to make smudge sticks, those bundles of herbs traditionally burned by Native Americans in ceremonies. (And your granola friends burn to "cleanse" their apartments after the bad roommate finally moves out.) The "diviner's sage" variety, on the other hand, is a hallucinogen.

It's not just any hallucinogen, either -- it contains the most potent naturally-occurring hallucinogen known, salvinorin A. This can give you a relatively short, but extremely vivid hallucinogenic experience that usually lasts a few minutes. Some people report losing the ability to move their bodies at will. Anyway, even if you can move your body, it's probably not a good idea to drive or operate machinery if you're seeing little green men.

Compare this with marijuana and ... actually, marijuana seems kind of mild. I mean, marijuana is illegal so that's obviously a problem. Salvia is legal -- for now. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) considers it a "drug of concern" and is monitoring it for reports of abuse. But pot won't make you SEE THINGS (not usually). And most tokers can still move around.

So while salvia doesn't seem to have many harmful health effects (so far researchers have not found any evidence that it's addictive), it still seems a little dangerous. My totally unprofessional, personal opinion is that it's probably safe if you're an adult, surrounded by other adults you trust, and with none of your kids around. It's probably safe if you don't have anything to do or anywhere to go for about three hours. But when does that ever happen?

Have you ever tried salvia? What did you think? And do you believe that's all Miley's smoking?

Image via luis perez/Flickr

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