Salvia divinorum is a plant native to North America that possesses psychedelic effects. However, the drug is considered very atypical, differing greatly from the classical tryptamines such as psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, and LSD.
The drug is taken either by itself, or mixed with another substance such as cannabis to act as a potentiator.
Salvinorin A is a potent κ-opioid agonist and D2 receptor partial agonist. Unlike mu-opioid potentiators, which can cause euphoria, kappa-opioid activation is associated with dysphoria. It has been speculated that depression following withdrawal from typical opioids is caused, at least in part, by upregulation of KOR. The clinical relevance of salvia's opioid properties is not fully understood.
Unlike classical psychedelics, salvia is not believed to affect the 5HT2A receptor.
Legality and Availability
Salvia divinorum in legal in the United States federally, but many states have enacted legislation banning it. Erowid keeps an up-to-date list of state-by-state legislation.
Many head shops in the US sell salvia, either unrefined or in extract form. Because salvia is not approved for human consumption by the FDA, shops are prohibited from marketing it as such. Typically, it is sold as an "herbal product" or "herbal extract" without detailed instructions.
Salvia is Schedule IV as of 2015. It is illegal to manufacture or distribute, but possession is legal.
Importation is also technically illegal, but as possession is not restricted, importing salvia products may still be possible.
Salvia is not approved by Health Canada; approval by the agency would legitimize the sale of salvia for human consumption, but such approval is unlikely to happen. Although stores can no longer sell salvia, enforcement of the ban is the jurisdiction of Health Canada, who is unlikely to be able to enforce the new restrictions, similar to the lack of enforcement of import restrictions by the US FDA. The RCMP have stated that they do not have jurisdiction over illicit salvia.
Effect 26 May 2016, the sale of salvia is banned in the UK. The law does not specify rules for possession, however, causing the legal status of salvia possession to be ambiguous. This means that acquiring salvia may still be practical, as France, the Netherlands, and other neighboring countries do not restrict the herb.
Salvia is legal in France, as long as it is marketed as not being for human consumption.
Salvia is illegal in Germany, effective beginning in 2008.
No restrictions on salvia are in place in the Netherlands.
Salvia is illegal in Australia, and is classified as a Schedule 9 substance.
Salvia can be manufactured, sold, and possessed only with a license.