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Is Salvia Legal? Understanding Salvia and its Legality

Salvia divinorum is a plant that belongs to the mint family and looks similar to sage.[1] This plant is native to South and Central America and is most commonly found in Mexico, where it is commonly used by indigenous tribes for healing purposes and rituals. Salvia is known to cause intense hallucinogenic effects, making it a common drug of abuse among many U.S. residents.

The active ingredient in salvia is Salvinorum A, a substance that binds to kappa opioid receptors in your brain. As a result, people who abuse salvia will experience vivid and unpredictable hallucinations. 

While salvia is legal on a federal level, its legality varies by state.

Is Salvia Legal in the United States?

Currently, salvia is legal on a federal level. However, certain states have banned its use and regulations differ on the possession, manufacturing, and consumption of the substances. For example, salvia is illegal in states like Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Currently, salvia is legal in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California 
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Montana 
  • Nevada 
  • New Mexico 
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming 

While the purchasing of salvia is currently allowed in specific states, the DEA is reviewing the legality of it and looking at making it a controlled substance. Once this happens, the purchasing and use of salvia will be illegal. 

Why Have Some States Made Salvia Illegal?

Several U.S. states and countries have made Salvia divinorum illegal due to a combination of factors, primarily concerns about its safety, potential for abuse, and cultural considerations. Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive plant native to Mexico that contains the naturally occurring hallucinogenic compound salvinorin A. Here are some of the reasons why some states have chosen to make Salvia illegal:

  • Safety Concerns – Salvia is known for its powerful hallucinogenic effects, which can include vivid, disorienting, and sometimes frightening experiences. This poses a safety risk, as individuals under the influence of Salvia may not be aware of their surroundings, making them vulnerable to accidents and injuries.
  • Potential for Abuse – Some individuals have used Salvia recreationally, seeking intense psychedelic experiences. This has raised concerns about the potential for abuse and misuse, especially among young people and those who may not fully understand the risks associated with its use.
  • Lack of Research – Despite being used for centuries in traditional Mexican shamanic practices, there is relatively little scientific research on Salvia divinorum. The limited research makes it challenging to fully understand its effects, risks, and potential therapeutic applications.
  • Cultural and Social Factors – The perception of Salvia’s use in the broader cultural context can influence legislation. Some policymakers and members of the public may have negative associations with hallucinogenic substances, leading to a push for stricter regulation.
  • Public Safety – Concerns about individuals experiencing intense and unpredictable reactions to Salvia, including the risk of self-harm or harm to others, have contributed to the push for regulation and prohibition.
  • Legal Precedent – Some states and countries may have implemented regulations and bans on Salvia as a preventive measure, following the example of jurisdictions where it has already been prohibited.

It’s important to note that the legal status of Salvia varies from one jurisdiction to another. While some states have made Salvia illegal, others have not, and it may be available for sale in certain places. Laws and regulations can change over time, so it’s essential to check the specific legal status of Salvia in your area if you are considering its use or possession.

What are the Effects of Salvia?

Salvia is sold in varying strengths and can be purchased as seeds, leaves, whole plants, or a liquid extract. When people abuse salvia, they might chew the leaves, brew them into a tea, or smoke them in a bowl or bong. The effects of salvia usually occur quickly and only last about 30 minutes. 

The effects of salvia may include:[1]

  • Dizziness 
  • Distortion of body, objects, and the environment around you
  • Detachment from self and reality 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Uncontrollable laughter 
  • Slurred speech
  • Feeling like you are flying 
  • Slowed heart rate 
  • Nausea and vomiting 

Because salvia can cause hallucinations and a detachment from reality, people may put themselves in dangerous situations while they are under the influence. Additionally, once the effects begin they will not stop until the trip is over. Because of this, abusing salvia can be incredibly dangerous to your physical and mental health.

Is Salvia Addictive?

The addictive potential of salvia remains unknown. However, the DEA has classified it as a drug of concern because of its availability and potential for misuse.[2] At the very least, regularly consuming salvia can result in psychological dependence.

While it is unknown whether salvia is addictive, addiction to hallucinogenic drugs like salvia is possible. If you are worried that a loved one is developing an addiction to salvia, look for the following signs of hallucinogen use disorder:[3]

  • Using more of the substance than you intended to 
  • Wanting to stop using the substance but being unable to 
  • Experiencing cravings to abuse the substance 
  • Failing to meet responsibilities at home, school, or work 
  • Continuing to use the substance despite experiencing interpersonal relationship issues 
  • Using the substance in dangerous situations, such as while driving 
  • Withdrawal from family and friends 
  • Continuing to use the drug despite experiencing adverse physical or mental effects 
  • Suspicious packages coming in the mail
  • Presence of plant material on clothes or furniture 
  • Irregular sleep patterns and changes in appetite 
  • Erratic and out-of-character behavior 
  • Experiencing frequent mood swings 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Needing more of the substance to experience the desired effect

Even though there is not enough research on the addictive nature of salvia, if your loved one continues to abuse this substance despite facing negative consequences they may require professional treatment. Drug rehab programs like Mandala Healing Center can provide them with the tools and support they need to achieve long-term sobriety. 

Can You Overdose on Salvia?

Overdosing on salvia is very rare, however, you can experience a bad trip even after using small amounts. 

“Bad trips” are characterized by experiencing negative emotions and scary hallucinations when taking a psychedelic drug. While salvia only lasts up to 30 minutes, people might not have a strong perception of time when they are high on it. As a result, these bad trips can feel like a never-ending nightmare.

Additionally, people who frequently misuse salvia can develop a condition known as hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD).[4] HPPD causes people to experience hallucinations even when they are not under the influence of saliva or other hallucinogens.

Find Help for Salvia Abuse 

If you or a loved one regularly abuses salvia, it’s time to seek professional help. While it is unclear whether long-term salvia abuse leads to addiction, it can cause significant mental health issues. At Mandala Healing Center, we can provide you with a combination of substance abuse and mental health treatment to help you regain control over your life.

To learn more about our treatment programs, please contact us today. 


  1. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Salvia Divinorum, Retrieved October 2023 From
  2. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Drug Fact Sheet: Salvia Divinorum, Retrieved October 2023 From
  3. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Hallucinogen Use Disorders Among Adult Users of MDMA and Other Hallucinogens, Retrieved October 2023 From
  4. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder, Retrieved October 2023 From