Teens buying legal psychedelic herb, police warn

Salvia divinorum can produce intense hallucinations when smoked or chewed but is legally being sold to teenagers across Canada, police say.

Teenagers across Canada are buying an herb that packs a powerful psychedelic punch. Health Canada and the RCMP say they're keeping a close eye on the legal sales.

Salvia divinorum, a sage-like plant, can produce intense hallucinations when smoked or chewed.

"When I first did it, within 30 seconds it was already doing its thing," said Blair Anderson, who co-owns a drug paraphernalia shop a few blocks from a high school in Edmonton. "I was thinking 'Man, this is just like LSD but it's happening really fast.'"

The store's co-owner, Colin Rogucki, said they decided not to sell the cheap drug to anyone under 18 because he thinks the drug's intensity makes it potentially dangerous to young teens.

The pair said they turn down many young people trying to get salvia to smoke.

"The drug is very common, easy to get and it's not illegal," said Constable Jason Lefebvre, a high school resource officer with Edmonton police. "So it seems natural that a lot of younger people are interested and curious about it and want to try it."

Students have reported the drug was disorienting, Lefebvre said. "They didn't say it was very much fun."

Edmonton police plan to provide more information about salvia to students and parents in September.

Police in Thunder Bay also noted the drug surfaced in their city this spring.