Heard of herbal highs for pain relief but want to know more about them? Learn about some of the most common legal highs available in the UK.
Drugs legislation is a funny thing in the UK. Some drugs are taxed and legal (alcohol, cigarettes, and numerous prescription medications amongst them), whilst others are illegal. Between these two extremes are the unusual items that occupy a legal twilight zone, products like herbal highs and marijuana seeds. Quite why some drugs are banned and some are not is something a mystery, particularly given the powerful effects of many herbal highs!
Some herbal highs are just that - plants and leaves that have mind altering properties when smoked or eaten. Others are chemical substances that produce similar effects to illegal chemicals. They range from substances that produce a mild sense or relaxation or euphoria all the way up to powerful hallucinatory substances like saliva, or pills that claim to provide similar effects to drugs like ecstasy and speed.
It's impossible to give a comprehensive list of herbal highs. New ones are being produced all the time, some products that were legal find themselves banned (like magic mushrooms), and there are so many brands and varieties out there that it is hard to keep track of them all. But here is an overview of some of the more common, famous (and infamous!) items you can expect to find online or at your local head shop...
- Salvia Divinorum - With a name that translates to "The Seer's Sage", it's no surprise that Salvia Divinorum produces some seriously powerful hallucinations and visions when it is smoked. What is surprising is that it is entirely legal! Believed to be used by Mazatec shamans as part of their spiritual practice (a common feature of most naturally occurring psychotropic substances), it certainly isn't for the faint hearted, though the strong effects only last for a short period of time.
- Spice - Perhaps the most notorious herbal high of recent years, 'Spice' (now being sold under a variety of different names) refers to herbs that have been treated with a synthetic cannabinoid, producing similar effects when smoked to marijuana. Despite various attempts to keep it off the radar of the Home Office, it is unlikely to retain its legal status for much longer in the UK.
- Kratom - Used for many years by the people of South East Asia as a medicinal plant and recreational substance, kratom is becoming an increasingly popular herbal high around the world. The leaf itself or a concentrated extract is chewed by itself or consumed in tea or yogurt, and its produces a mild euphoria and sense of relaxation. It is commonly consumed by manual workers in South East Asia, in much the same way that coca leaves are chewed by the people of Bolivia.
- Marijuana Seeds - Not strictly a herbal high, but worth mentioning as a common product to be found in head shops. It's a strange kink of the legal system that possession of marijuana itself is illegal, but that marijuana seeds can be bought perfectly legitimately from head shops or from online retailers. The marijuana seeds themselves have no mind altering properties themselves...but of course, given the right conditions, they do produce a certain well known substance that does have an effect if ingested...
Robert Kane is the web editor of Sensible Seeds (www.sensibleseeds.com) They offer a wealth of products to browse as well as online articles and forum discussions.