From Boing Boing

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Salvia divinorum is a very potent psychoactive herb that has intense dissociative effects when smoked. According to researchers, it’s likely the most potent natural hallucinogen gram for gram. Salvia divinorum is mostly legal in the United States, but maybe not for much longer. YouTube has thousands of videos of people tripping on it and lawmakers are now pointing to those clips as evidence that the herb should be criminalized. Meanwhile, it’s also being studied by pharmacologists for possible use in treating pain, depression, and addiction. From the New York Times:

 Wikipedia Commons Thumb 8 82 Salvia Divinorum - Herba De Maria.Jpg 260Px-Salvia Divinorum - Herba De MariaWhen the federal government this year published its first estimates of salvia use, the data astonished many: some 1.8 million people had tried it in their lifetimes, including 750,000 in the previous year. Among males 18 to 25, where consumption is heaviest, nearly 3 percent reported using salvia in the previous year, making it twice as prevalent as LSD and nearly as popular as Ecstasy.

Recent studies at college campuses on both coasts have yielded estimates as high as 7 percent. The herb’s presence on military ships and bases has prompted enough concern about readiness that the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology was asked to develop the first urinalysis for salvia and is now testing 50 samples a month….

“We have this incredible new compound, the first in its class; it absolutely has potential medical use, and here we’re talking about throttling it because some people get intoxicated on it,” said Dr. John Mendelson, a pharmacologist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute who, with federal financing, is studying salvia’s impact on humans. “It couldn’t be more foolish from a business point of view.”

“Popularity of a Hallucinogen May Thwart Its Medical Uses” (NY Times, thanks Steve Steinberg!)

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