Mystic Herb Now Illegal in Minnesota

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2010 Updated Aug 2, 2010 at 7:33 PM CDT

DULUTH, MINN. --- Yesterday, a new Minnesota state law snuffed out a psycho–active drug that users had been legally taking for years -- Salvia Divinorum.

"Salvia," as it is commonly called, is an herb once used by Mexican shamans for religious ceremonies.

The substance is currently used by people around the world to experience effects that range from mild euphoria to strong hallucinations that last about 15 minutes.

"It trips you out for a good 30 to 60 seconds, and then you snap right out of it, and everything is fine," said one anonymous user, waiting in line for the bus at the Holiday Center in Duluth.

Users typically smoke the herb, or drink it in a tea. Various strengths and concentrations are commercially available in 30 states.

They were once available in Duluth, notably at 'The Last Place on Earth,' a local specialty store.

"We were selling quite a bit of it, but now the incense kind of took over because they like that better," said Jim Carlson, owner of Last Place On Earth.

Experts say users typically smoke salvia. However, these days it's not for a religious experience, according to Eric Ament of Duluth-based Anna Hatta Herbs.

The upstart herbal shop specializes in dietary supplements for the health and well-being of the body.

"We see a lot more recreational use, commercialized for recreational enjoyment, and it's not in a healthy, respectable, manner," Ament said, referring to salvia.

On August 1st, Salvia Divinorum became illegal in Minnesota.

Those who use or sell it could get up to a year in jail, fines of up to $3,000, or both.

Some may ask, 'Will the new restrictions curb America's drug problem, or lead to safer Minnesota streets?'

Not according to Jim Carlson, owner of Last Place on Earth.

"People that want to do something will just switch and just do something different," Carlson said.

"The government just is making them go to something harder or more illegal."

Written for the web by Matt Standal