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Salvia smokers share their experiences with Johns Hopkins researchers

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December 13, 2010|By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

Salvia turned up on the pop culture radar last week after Miley Cyrus, caught on a video using a bong, said she was smoking salvia, not marijuana. So what’s the difference? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have been looking into that very thing.

Little research has been done on the effects of Salvia divinorum, an herb in the mint family that has been used as a hallucinogenic drug. As this Baltimore Sun story explains: "The study, while small and in a tightly controlled environment, appeared to show that the drug could be surprisingly intense and disorienting. ... But the effects lasted only about 20 minutes and didn't cause blood pressure or heart rates to rise, and there was no apparent brain toxicity. Salvia also didn't appear addictive."

That may be true, but that doesn't mean it's not popular. The Internet is full of videos of kids trying salvia. And Cyrus, 18, apparently wasn’t doing anything illegal (if, in fact, she was smoking salvia) because the herb isn't banned in California where the party supposedly took place.

Others may not be so lucky, the story says: "Around the country, the laws are spotty on salvia, which has likely already been used by millions. Other states ban sales to minors and some allow sales only for the garden. Thirteen states have outlawed salvia altogether."

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