It's Your Health
Salvia divinorum (S. divinorum) is a species of sage belonging to the mint family. Some street names for S. divinorum include: Sally D, Lady Sally, Maria pastora, ska Maria pastora, ska pastora, diviner's sage, magic mint, puff, incense special, and salvia.
Certain websites promote the use of S. divinorum as a "legal" alternative to street drugs. Recent Canadian surveillance data indicates that Canadian teens and young adults are using S. divinorum for its ability to produce hallucinations. Scientific reports also suggest that it has the potential for abuse.
Canadians are cautioned against the use of products containing S. divinorum and/or salvinorin A because these products are known to cause hallucinations and little is known about the long-term effects of these substances on the brain and body.
In light of this information, Health Canada is proposing to schedule both S. divinorum and its main active ingredient salvinorin A under Schedule III to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly youth.
S. divinorum is known to have both physical and mental effects. The effects of S. divinorum, which vary from person to person, are often described as unpleasant and may include the following:
There is no way to predict what effect this substance may have on you. In addition, the effects may differ from one use to the next, depending on factors such as:
While scientists know which brain receptors are targeted by the main active ingredient, salvinorin A, very little is known about the following:
Hallucinogens like S. divinorum work by modifying functions in the brain. Health Canada recommends that you should not use S. divinorum because these products are known to cause hallucinations and little is known about the long-term effects it may have on your body and/or brain functions. There is also no way to predict how it will affect you with each use. Just because a drug is plant-based or "natural", does not mean that it is safe.
Also, if you have children, talk to them about peer pressure and the risks of using illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and other substances that distort reality. See the Need More Info section below for links to resources that can help you with this.
As S. divinorum is a plant with hallucinogenic properties when consumed by humans, it currently meets the definition of a natural health product (NHP) under the Natural Health Products Regulations. As of February 2011, Health Canada has not authorized for sale any natural health products which contain S. divinorum as an ingredient. The sale of unauthorized natural health products containing S. divinorum or its main active ingredient salvinorin A may be subject to compliance and enforcement action by Health Canada under the Food and Drugs Act.
While S. divinorum and salvinorin A are not currently scheduled under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), Health Canada has issued a Notice to Interested Parties which proposes to include S. divinorum and salvinorin A as controlled substances to the CDSA. This means that activities such as possession, trafficking, importation, exportation, production (or cultivation), possession for the purpose of trafficking or possession for the purposes of exporting would be illegal unless authorized by regulation.
Several countries including but not limited to Australia, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Japan, have placed similar controls on the import and/or sale of S. divinorum and/or salvinorin A.
In the United States, S. divinorum and salvinorin A are not regulated under the Controlled Substances Act, but a number of individual states have placed similar restrictions on their sale and/or import. For example, several states have made it illegal to manufacture, distribute, import/export, possess, use, buy and/or sell S. divinorum and/or salvinorin A to various degrees, while others have placed restrictions on distribution. In some states, for example, it is illegal for S. divinorum to be sold to anyone under the age of 18.
The leaves of this plant have been used traditionally by the Mazatec people for medicinal and mystical purposes.
The products are sold in a number of forms, including fresh or dried leaves, liquids or seeds and plant cuttings for growing purposes.
Results from the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) reveal that, in 2009, 1.6% of Canadians aged 15 years and older have reported using S. divinorum at least once in their lifetime, with a much higher rate of use (7.3%) in youth aged 15-24. The results from the Canadian 2008-2009 Youth Smoking Survey also show that 5% of youth in grades 7 to 12 have used S. divinorum in the past year. The 2009 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) indicated that 5.4% of Ontario students in grades 7-12 reported ever using S. divinorum and 4.4% of these students reported using this substance in the past year. For more information on these surveys, see the Need More Info section below.
As noted above, in light of the health and safety risks associated with the use of S. divinorum and particularly the risks to youth, Health Canada is taking steps to schedule S. divinorum and salvinorin A under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
For information on how to submit a consumer or trade complaint about the unauthorized sale of health products containing S. divinorum please consult the following documents:
Or contact the Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate directly by calling toll-free 1-800-267-9675.
To report an adverse reaction or interaction involving any health product, contact Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345 (toll free in Canada), or visit the MedEffect Canada web section
For information about the Government of Canada's National Anti-Drug Strategy The Prevention section on this site has a number of helpful resources for parents, including:
Information on natural health products and the Natural Health Products Regulations
For more on the surveys that have collected information about Salvia divinorum use in Canada, see:
For additional articles on health and safety issues go to the It's Your Health web section.
You can also call toll free at 1-866-225-0709 or TTY at 1-800-267-1245*
Original : February 2011
ę Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Health, 2011