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Newark Division

Michael Pasterchick, Jr.
Special Agent in Charge

The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey


Salvia Divinorum, ska Maria Pastora, Salvia  
(Salvinorin A, Divinorin A)

Introduction

Salvia Divinorum is a perenial herb in the mint family native to certain areas of the Sierra Mazateca region of Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of 500 species of Salvia in the New World is in similar to the sage plant. The plant grows in large groupings to well over 3 feet in height. It's large green leaves, hollow square stems and flowers are it's characteristic features. S. Divinorum is one of several vision-inducing plants employed by the Mazatec Indians

Picture of Salvia Divinorum LeavesThere has been a recent interest among young adults and adolescents to re-discover ethnobotanical plants that can induce changes in perception, hallucinations, or other psychologically-induced changes. Since S. Divinorum, or any of its active ingredients are not  specifically listed in the Controlled Substances Act, some on-line botanical companies and drug promotional sites have advertised Salvia as a legal alternative to other plant hallucinogens like mescaline. The plant material is smoked for the induction of "mystical" or hallucinogenic experiences.

Chemistry/Pharmacology

"Salvinorin A" the active component of S. Divinorum,  is most effective when vaporized and inhaled. Chemically, Salvinorin A is a neoclerodane diterpene, a psychotropic terpenoid. The grouping of psychoactive plants containing terpenoid essential oils includes Salvia Divinorum, Wormwood (Absinth), and Cannabis Sativa (tetrahydrocannabinols, THC).  Divinorin A was chemically characterized by Valdes et al., in 1984, however Ortega et al., (1982) had previously characterized the same substance and called it Salvinorin A and thus, out of convention, the psychoactive substance should be called Salvinorin A.  A dose of 200 to 500 micrograms produces profound hallucinations when smoked. Its' effects in the open field test in mice and locomotor activity tests in rats are similar to mescaline. Salvinorin A's action in the brain are not well elucidated. However, recent tissue testing (in vitro assays) have suggested that Salvinorin A may act at the kappa opiate receptor site, but functional assays are lacking to determine the exact mechanism of action of this drug substance.

Illicit Uses

Salvia is being smoked to induce hallucinations, the diversity of which are described by its users to be similar to those induced by ketamine, mescaline, or psilocybin.  It is being widely touted on internet sites aimed at young adults and adolescents eager to experiment with these types of substances.

User Population

The user populations, thus far, seems limited to younger adults and adolescents influenced by the promotion of the drug on internet sites

Illicit distributed

Salvia Divinorum is grown domestically and imported from Mexico, and Central and South America.

Control status

Salvia Divinorum, Salvinorin A, and Divinorin A are not listed in the Controlled Substances Act.

Comments and additional information are welcomed by the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, FAX 202-307-8570 or telephone 202-307-7183.

September, 2002

 

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