A blown mind is a terrible thing to waste

The Bee sent me to Salvia divinorum and all I got was a buzzkill

Years before stepping down as the CBS Evening News anchor, blowing the George W. Bush Texas Air National Guard story and that whole “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” deal, Dan Rather had Houston cops shoot him up with heroin. Working a smack story, Dan claimed it’d make him a better reporter. That prompted Paraquat Kelly of the then mighty KMET-FM of Los Angeles to proclaim, “Then I must be the greatest reporter in the world.”

It was in that spirit that I followed up on The Sacramento Bee’s February 18 story, “Drug gains a buzz as hip—or dangerous.” Warning that “California kids can legally tune in, turn on and freak out to a potent, mind-altering drug called Salvia divinorum,” Jim Sanders’ report had everything: slimy Internet sales; YouTube videos of freakouts; backwater origins (from a mint plant that grows in … Mexico!); use among savages (the Mazatec Indians of … Mexico!); coy street names (“Sally D,” “magic mint”); dire misgivings about its potency from officials in other states, countries, District Attorneys’ offices, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse; tales of Salvia divinorum-induced hallucinations that turned a burrito into sharp-fanged attack dog and miniblinds into whipping sticks; the (rote for these stories) tragic tale of a supposedly linked teen suicide; and a roundup of the usual alarmed moms, alarmed cops, alarmed lawmakers … and a lone, hippie-dippie herbalist defender.

Readers discovered how much it costs ($40 per package) and where to get it (Twisted smoke shop at 37th and J streets). Thanks, Bee. All our paper of record lacked was the Dan Rather factor, so, I made a Bee-line (so sorry) for Twisted, snatched up some Sally D, smoked the whole thing in one sitting and watched the Oscars, waiting to trip.

Well, dear readers, I am here to report that what followed was absolutely horrifying: Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I was not intoxicated. I did not hallucinate. I experienced no euphoria, no greater introspection. Jon Stewart never melted into Wavy Gravy—although the earring in Harrison Ford’s left lobe during the post-awards Baba Wawa Special did freak me out.

All I experienced was the feeling of being ripped off. I coulda spent half as much for pot and at least got buzzed! My lawn clippings are more potent.

Coming up in the Bee: “Why your teen suddenly wants to mow the tall fescue.”