What Is Salvia, and Is the Psychoactive Drug Still Legal?
Here’s everything you need to know about the hallucinogenic plant that's notorious for inspiring short-but-potent trips.
Published on March 26, 2020

If only salvia could speak, maybe we’d know what the hell happened after we smoked it. 

When people hear the term “salvia,” they may think of a number of things. Some will no doubt be immediately transported back to memorably awful college experiences. Others may fondly recall the popular (if questionably helpful) YouTube tutorials posted by Erik Hoffstad, who once taught us the joys of “Gardening on Salvia.” Unquestionably, there are also those who just remember that one time Miley Cyrus smoked some.

Is Salvia Still Legal in the US? 

Unfortunately, there is no one-word answer to this seemingly-simple question. 

The truth is that it is currently up to each state to decide if they want to enact a law banning or permitting the use and sale of salvia. The reason stems from an absence of federal guidance, given salvia essentially exists in a no man’s land in which it is neither medically approved nor federally banned.   

Instead, states have approached the topic on their own terms. The result is a bit of a mess. Salvia is outright banned in 29 states, as well as in the territory of Guam, though it’s important to note that all laws governing the sale of salvia are relatively new. The oldest effort by a state to ban salvia dates back only to 2003, when two lawmakers failed to get a bill outlawing the plant through Oregon’s senate.

Subsequent efforts to restrict salvia in Oregon have failed, as well, leading the state to be one of the few in which salvia is still fully legal today. Meanwhile, other states have opted for a middle ground. 


In California and Maine, salvia is legal, but sale to minors is prohibited. Both Maine and Maryland further restrict the possession of salvia to those ages 21 and older. Georgia is one of five states (along with Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) where salvia is legal but not for consumption. In those states, you can possess, cultivate, and sell salvia, but strictly for “aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes."

Case in point: Be sure you check the latest on your state’s laws before embracing the short-but-potent mind odyssey the plant can inspire. 

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Zack Ruskin
Zack Ruskin is a cannabis and culture journalist living in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter: @zackruskin.
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