By: Sarah Snyder
It's a drug gaining popularity with teens and young adults and state lawmakers say it's dangerous. Salvia is similar to marijuana, but has short term effects.
It's a drug that's being banned in many states, so far nine states have labeled it illegal and Texas may be next on the list.
In the legislative session that starts on Tuesday, one Texas lawmaker plans to call for a ban on the sale of Salvia, an opium-based weed that grows in Mexico.
The Palmer Drug Abuse Program in Midland tells us it's a growing problem here in West Texas, and because it's legal, it's easy for teens and young adults to find.
"The fact that it's readily available, it's a potent hallucinogen, and it's unregulated is a combination that really needs to be addressed," Charles "Doc" Anderson, District 56 Representative said.
And Salvia is starting to pop up all over the Basin.
"When we first started seeing it a couple years ago, one kid would come in using it and it would just freak us out," Bruce Cooper, with the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, said. "Now we get 2-3 kids each week."
It's sold at some convenience stores and other places around the U.S., but here in West Texas, it's mostly found in adult bookstores costing about $100-200.
"It's growing," Cooper said. "It's starting to become a problem as the teenagers learn about it and young adults learn about it. It's not something that's being drug tested for and they can still use it and pass job applications and stuff. It's becoming more of an issue."
Salvia alters your visual perception, brings hallucinations, and drastically changes your mood.
"It's just another drug," Cooper said. "It doesn't matter whether it's legal or illegal that they shouldn't be using it."
Palmer Drug Program says young adults on probation often use Salvia because it doesn't show up on the drug tests.
"There isn't a teenager that comes in here that doesn't ask us about it," Cooper said. "Whether they've used it or not, what do you think about it and do you think it's a drug. They all come in very curious about it and I think that's going to lead to other big problems at some point."
Salvia is not always addictive, but it can lead to other problems.
"If they start using that chemical then they'll start moving on to other things to continue getting the high," Cooper said. "Salvia doesn't keep you high very long. It's very short term."
"It's on every high school campus, it's on every college campus," Rep. Anderson said. "We have to protect Texans, particularly youngsters."
Representative Anderson tells us Salvia is already illegal in 12 U.S. states and several other countries including Japan, Sweden, Norway, and Australia.