Salvia: The legal marijuana?

Salvia: The legal marijuana? »Play Video
Experts are warning parents about a common houseplant that has been outlawed in several states due to its dangerous and potentially debilitating qualities.

Salvia, a legal hallucinogen, is known to yield an intense high. The substance has been used by the Mazatec Indians in Mexico for centuries, but several states recently banned the plant after a child in Delaware wrote about how salvia changed his life then later committed suicide.

Seattle teenager Dylan Kelly, who admits to having tried salvia, said the substance is so powerful that when he smokes it, he can barely move.

"I had some strange patterns over my vision. It's kind of hard to explain," Kelly said.

"Sometimes I'll just have a shift in perception," said Max Carpenter, who has also tried salvia.

"It looked like things that were actually going away from me were going toward me," Kelly said. "It felt like I was being forced onto the ground."

Caleb Banta-Green, a scientist at the University of Washington, said though salvia is not new, its full effects are still unknown.

"Is it like LSD is it like PCP? I don't think we really know," he said. "We're still trying to find out the chemistry of it."

Despite the remaining mystery behind the potential dangers, salvia remains legal. We found it being sold at a shop in Pike Place Market, right out of the front counter. Salvia is also available for sale online.

And salvia comes in many forms. Shoppers can buy a whole salvia plant, just the plant's leaves or the plant's extract in liquid form.

KOMO 4 News even found Web sites that direct users on how to process the plant's leaves and smoke them.

Jess Bender sells salvia in Seattle's University District and makes no apologies about it, claiming he warns his customers about the dangers.

"Oh, it can be very dangerous, yes," he said.

When asked why he sells the plant if he's so aware of its dangers, Bender said, "It's a very popular item."

Some kids are even posting video of their experience with salvia online, which could serve as harmful advertising to those who have not tried it.

"Well, basically probably the reason I did it was because all of my friends were doing it and they looked like they were having fun," Carpenter said.

Banta-Green said parents should be aware of the possible effects of salvia.

"We really don't know the consequences of them. With botanicals you really don't know what the concentration is and, depending on how it's prepared, you don't really know necessarily what you're getting. There are just a bunch of unknowns," he said.