Last Updated Fri, 28 Jul 2006 15:56:47 EDT
CBC News A member of the sage family that packs a hallucinogenic wallop and is becoming popular on North American campuses is not illegal in Canada.
Salvia divinorum, or diviner's sage, is a member of the sage family. It was traditionally used by shamans in Mexico to induce visions.
"It's quite overwhelming and depersonalizing," said Chris Bennett, co-owner of the Urban Shaman store in Vancouver that specializes in selling visionary herbs.
"If you try to hang on and maintain your ego and personality, it can be quite frightening because it will feel like it's getting ripped away from you."
Despite the intense reactions experienced by some users, the plant is unregulated under Health Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It is legal to both sell and use diviner's sage, so long as no health claims are made.
"I think used in an uncontrolled situation, there's potential risks, probably more psychological than physiological," said Kenneth Tupper, a drug education expert. "There's very little research that's been done on this."
Bennett said users have to be responsible when using legal, mind-altering drugs.
"Any law against any plant is an unnatural act against humanity's indigenous right to the plants of the Earth," he said.
Australia and some U.S. states have deemed it illegal. There are no plans to do the same in Canada.