Slideshow

Online drugs: a closer look

Here's a closer look at psychoactive substances for sale online, from mushrooms, tinctures, and teas to smokes, powders, and seeds.

  • Salvia Divinorum (15X)


    Substance: Salvia (from Salvia divinorum)
    Street name: Magic Mint, Diviner's Sage, Sally-D
    Purchased as: Trip Pack Salvia 15x Price: US$55 for 1 gram
    Purchased from: SalviaSupply.com
    What it is: Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive species in the genus Salvia. It is a member of the mint family and is native to southern Mexico. Historically, several Native American cultures have used the plant's leaves, which contain the psychoactive ingredient salvinorin, as a hallucinogen by smoking them during rituals.
    Method of consumption: Smoked
    Effects: Depending on the potency of the particular sample, salvia delivers a fast-acting hallucinogenic experience for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice at the site states that its products are "not intended for human consumption." The product ships with a label stating "for incense use only." John Qaqundah, a practicing hospital pharmacist and assistant clinical professor with the School of Pharmacy at the University of California-San Francisco, says that use of salvia can produce temporary sensory or perceptual impairment, potentially increasing the user's risk of falling over or otherwise incurring injury.
  • Amanita Muscaria (10X)


    Substance: Amanita muscaria
    Street name: Fly Agaric, Fly Amanita
    Purchased as: Amanita muscaria
    Price: $14 for 1 gram of 10X extract
    Purchased from: Pure Land Ethnobotanicals
    What it is: Amanita muscaria is a mushroom native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. It contains the psychoactive chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol. The sample purchased by PC World is marked 10X.
    Method of consumption: Dried and eaten or drunk as extract mixed with liquid.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: The site states “We do not offer products for human consumption.” The product ships in packaging marked “Not for human consumption.” According to experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, some varieties of Amanita muscaria may be confused with other Amanita species that are poisonous and sometimes fatal. The genus Amanita includes such extremely dangerous species as the death cap (Amanita phalloides) and the destroying angels (Amanita bisporigera, Amanita ocreata, and Amanita virosa), as well as some edible species like the Caesar's mushroom (Amanita caesareus).
  • Banisteriopsis Caapi


    Substance: Banisteriopsis caapi
    Street name: Caapi, Ayahuasca, Yage, Yaje
    Purchased as: Shredded Ayahuasca
    Price: $11.50 for 1 ounce
    Purchased from: SalviaSupply.com
    What it is: The shredded root bark of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which is native to various parts of the Amazon River Basin in South America, contains a naturally occurring mono-amine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOIs magnify the effects of certain types of psychoactive plants, essentially making a mild hallucinogen more powerful. Bark from this vine is traditionally mixed into a brew with psychedelic plants such as chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and chaliponga (Diplopterys cabrerana), both of which contain the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
    Method of consumption: Shredded vine is mixed with plants that contain varying amounts of hallucinogens; the mixture is boiled or soaked, and the resulting liquid is drunk.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states that products sold are "not intended for human consumption." Natural drug expert Dr. Ikhlas Khan, assistant director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, says that--because of its MAOI properties--if the bark is taken with antidepressants such as Prozac, the combination can lead to seizures and even death.
  • 5-Methoxytryptamine


    Substance: 5-Methoxytryptamine
    Purchased as: 5-methoxy-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO DMT)
    Price: $25 for 100mg
    Purchased from: Synergistic Effects
    What it is: The Synergistic Effects site described the substance as 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO DMT), which it characterizes as a “powerful psychedelic.” Lab tests by the University of Mississippi indicate that the substance that Synergistic Effects sold to PC World is 5-Methoxytryptamine, a benign muscle stimulant. When PC World sent e-mail messages to the site requesting comment, the site did not respond.
    Effects: Muscle stimulant
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site says that the product is not to be used for “human consumption of any kind” and “is a Research Compound and may be hazardous.”
  • Amanita Muscaria (resin extract, 10X)


    Substance: Amanita muscaria
    Street name: Fly Agaric, Fly Amanita
    Purchased as: Amanita muscaria 10XExtract
    Price: $24 for 3 grams
    Purchased from: Bouncing Bear Botanicals
    What it is: This black resin extract is made from the Amanita muscaria mushroom, which is native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. This species of Amanita contains the psychoactive chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol. The sample purchased by PC World is marked 10X.
    Method of consumption: This resin is most often smoked
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states “None of the Ethnobotanicals sold are for human consumption.” The product ships in packaging labeled “Not for consumption.” According to experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, some varieties of Amanita muscaria may be confused with other Amanita species that are poisonous and sometimes fatal. The genus Amanita includes such extremely dangerous species as the death cap (Amanita phalloides) and the destroying angels (Amanita bisporigera, Amanita ocreata, and Amanita virosa), as well as some edible species like the Caesar's mushroom (Amanita caesareus).
  • Psychotria Viridis


    Substance: Psychotria viridis
    Street name: Chacruna
    Purchased as: Psychotria viridis - Chacruna "Peruvian Foliage"
    Price: $15 for 56 grams
    Purchased from: HerbalFire Botanicals
    What it is: Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) is a small shrub native to the Amazon River Basin in South America. The plant's narrow leaves produce a natural form of the psychedelic DMT. The leaves are a common ingredient in the psychedelic brew known as Ayahuasca.
    Method of consumption: Leaves are boiled into a tea, often mixed with MAOIs that magnify the effects of the psychoactive ingredients.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states “None of the products sold are for human consumption” and “Do not ingest anything from this site.” The product ships in packaging labeled “Not for consumption.” Persons who are taking common psychiatric medicine such as Prozac and who ingest Psychotria viridis combined with MAOIs could suffer seizures or even risk death, according to experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research, at the University of Mississippi.
  • Banisteriopsis Caapi (200X)


    Substance: Banisteriopsis caapi,
    Street name: Ayahuasca Vine, Banisteriopsis caapi Ayahuasca
    Purchased as: Banisteriopsis caapi 200X Vine Extract
    Price: $8 for 100mg
    Purchased from: Pure Land Ethnobotanicals
    What it is: This powder is a concentrated (200X) caapi extract of the active ingredient found in the root bark of a vine called Banisteriopsis caapi (see previous slide) found in the Amazon River Basin. The bark contains a natural occurring mono-amine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOIs magnify the effects of certain types of psychoactive plants, essentially making a mild hallucinogen more powerful. Bark from this vine is traditionally mixed into a brew with psychedelic plants such as chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and chaliponga (Diplopterys cabrerana), both of which contain the hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
    Method of consumption: Shredded vine is mixed with plants that contain varying amounts of hallucinogens; the mixture is boiled or soaked, and the resulting liquid is drunk.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: Site states "We do not offer products for human consumption." Natural drug expert Dr. Ikhlas Khan, assistant director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, says that--because of its MAOI properties--if the bark is taken with antidepressants such as Prozac, the combination can lead to seizures and even death.
  • Kratom Powder (15X)


    Substance: Kratom (from Mitragyna speciosa)
    Street name: Kratom, Ketum, Thom
    Purchased as: Purple Sticky Kratom
    Price: $25 for 3 grams of 15X
    Purchased from: Purple Sticky Brand (PurpleStickySalvia.com)
    What it is: Kratom comes from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, which is native to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. The sample shown here was purchased as "15X" or "15:1 concentration of the main active component in the dry leaf," according to the seller.
    Method of consumption: Dried leaves are mixed with hot water and made into a tea. Alternatively, powder may be mixed with a cold drink.
    Effects: Users of kratom report feelings of euphoria or an opiate-like high.
    Warnings: Independent drug dependency expert, Dr. Howard Samuels, executive director of the Wonderland Center, a Los Angeles drug rehab facility, says that kratom can be habit forming.
  • Kanna


    Substance: Kanna (from Sceletium tortuosum)
    Street name: Kanna, Channa, Kougoed
    Purchased as: Kanna Powder
    Price: $28 for 28 grams (seller specifies "pharmaceutical-grade powder")
    Purchased from: Bouncing Bear Botanicals
    What it is: Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is a flowery succulent plant found in South Africa. Traditionally, South African tribesman have chewed the plant's roots and leaves.
    Method of consumption: Roots and leaves are fermented and smoked. Ground and dried roots and leaves may be put into gel caps, or made into teas or tinctures.
    Effects: Weak narcotic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the seller's site states “None of the Ethnobotanicals sold are for human consumption.” The product ships in packaging labeled “Not for consumption.” Persons who are taking common psychiatric medicine such as Prozac and who ingest Kanna combined with MAOIs could suffer seizures or even risk death, according to experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research, at the University of Mississippi.
  • Dutch Green Bud


    Substance: Composite of herbs
    Street name: Dutch Green Bud
    Purchased as: Dutch Green Bud
    Price: $47 for 1 ounce
    Purchased from: Herbal Smoke Shop
    What it is: This mixture of unrelated plants looks similar to processed marijuana (Cannabis sativa), though it does not contain any marijuana. University of Mississippi lab tests identified a number of different herbs in the mixture--some of which are known to possess intoxicating properties. Among the primary ingredients were Leonotis leonurus (aka "lion's tail" or "wild dagga"), which contains leonurine, a mild sedative alkaloid; poppy seeds; fennel; and Lactuca virosa (aka "wild lettuce" or "opium lettuce"), which contains lactucopicrin, another mild sedative.
    Method of consumption: The site indicates that the product is intended for smoking: "Super taste and potent smell with a smooth burning, very satisfying smoke that is kind to the soul!"
    Effects: Includes intoxicants and sedatives.
    Warnings: Herbal Smoke Shop's site features a disclaimer stating that "Herbal smokes and herbal cigarettes may be hazardous to your health. They produce tar and carbon monoxide when smoked." The product description for Dutch Green Bud includes this statement: "Caution: Do not drive or operate any machinery after using this product."
  • Argemone Mexicana (15X)


    Substance: Argemone (from Argemone mexicana)
    Street name: Argemone mexicana, Mexican Poppy, Mexican Prickly Poppy, or Cardosanto
    Purchased as: Prickly Poppy (Argemone mexicana)
    Price: $8 for 1 gram (purchased in September 2008; product was unavailable at press time)
    Purchased from: Bouncing Bear Botanicals
    What it is: The leaf of the Mexican prickly poppy. The plant--which is native to Mexico (as you'd expect)--is a member of the same family as the opium poppy, but it is legal to possess and it contains no opium.
    Method of consumption: Leaves are smoked
    Effects: Mild euphoric feeling lasting about 30 minutes
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states "none of the Ethnobotanicals sold are for human consumption." The product ships in packaging labeled "Not for human consumption." Though users smoke the leaves, they avoid the seeds (not included in the product we purchased), which are very toxic because they naturally contain a chemical compound called sanguinarine, according to experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research, at the University of Mississippi.
  • Salvia Divinorum (60X)


    Substance: Salvia divinorum
    Street name: Magic Mint, Diviner's Sage, Sally-D
    Purchased as: Salvia Divinorum Extract 60X
    Price: $80 for 1 gram
    Purchased from: Salvianoid
    What it is: Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive species in the genus Salvia. It is a member of the mint family and is native to southern Mexico. Historically, several Native American cultures have used the plant's leaves, which contain the psychoactive ingredient salvinorin, as a hallucinogen by smoking them during rituals.
    Method of consumption: Smoked
    Effects: Depending on the potency of the particular sample, salvia delivers a fast-acting hallucinogenic experience for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
    Warnings: The product ships in packaging labeled “Salvia divinorum incense.” The site includes the following warning on the specific Web page displaying Salvia divinorum 60X: “At the high end of the dose range, it is possible to lose consciousness or awareness of the experience or effect after taking the Salvia, resulting in no recollection if a very deep trance occurs.” John Qaqundah, a practicing hospital pharmacist and assistant clinical professor with the School of Pharmacy at the University of California-San Francisco, says that use of salvia can produce temporary sensory or perceptual impairment, potentially increasing the user's risk of falling over or otherwise incurring injury.
  • Leonurus Sibiricus (10X)


    Substance: Leonurus sibiricus
    Street name: Motherwort
    Purchased as: Motherwort 10x Extract
    Price: $9 for 1 gram of 10X extract
    Purchased from: Bouncing Bear Botanicals
    What it is: The crushed leaves from the Eurasian plant called Leonotis leonurus (commonly known as "Siberian motherwort" or "honeyweed") contains the alkaloid leonurine, which is a mild muscle relaxant that has calming effects. The material we purchased was marketed as "10X potency dry extract."
    Method of consumption: Smoked
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states “None of the Ethnobotanicals sold are for human consumption.” The product ships in packaging marked “Not for consumption.” Temporary sensory or perceptual impairment could put user at risk of falling over or otherwise incurring injury, according to John Qaqundah, a practicing hospital pharmacist and assistant clinical professor with the School of Pharmacy at the University of California-San Francisco.
  • Substances for Sale: PC World's Test Purchases


    To investigate the sale of psychoactive drugs on the Internet, we made 19 test buys at several online sites. The products we received included roots, mushrooms, powders, and resins from many parts of the globe. Some of them came not only with a psychedelic hit, but with the potential for damaging side effects, according to researchers at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, who worked with us to analyze the samples.
    (Note: Many of the photos in this slide show offer magnified views of the samples outside their packaging, to make details of their texture easier to see. We purchased our samples in the summer and fall of 2008. Availability and prices may have changed.)
    The following information about the street or common names, methods of consumption, and effects of the substances we purchased comes from University of Mississippi researchers, unless specified otherwise.
  • Datura Inoxia


    Substance: Datura (from Datura inoxia)
    Street name: Thorn-Apple, Indian-Apple, Moonflower, Trumpet Tea, Sacred Datura
    Purchased as: Datura
    Price: $18 for 14 grams
    Purchased from: Bouncing Bear Botanicals
    What it is: Datura inoxia is a woody-stalked, leafy shrub of the nightshade family; it is native to South America and North America. It bears showy white trumpet-shaped flowers. Note that "Datura" is the genus name of a number of plants, including Datura stramonium (widely known as "jimsonweed"), a common weed that has hallucinogenic properties and grows wild in many temperate areas of the world--including much of the United States.
    Method of consumption: Seeds of Datura inoxia are sometimes eaten; the leaf is brewed into a tea for drinking.
    Effects: Euphoria and delirium, characterized by stupor and confusion
    Warnings: The product description on the seller's site warns that “Datura is an extremely poisonous plant. Their [sic] have been many reported fatalities from accidental poisoning and people seeking a thrill. We strongly discourage anyone who is contemplating ingesting any part of this plant.” A disclaimer notice on the site states “None of the Ethnobotanicals sold are for human consumption.” The product ships in packaging labeled "Not for human consumption." Experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi warn that Datura inoxia can cause seizures and death.
  • Mimosa Hostilis


    Substance: Mimosa hostilis
    Street name: Jurema, Mimosa Hostilis, Mimosa
    Purchased as: Mimosa Hostilis - Jurema
    Price: $66 for 227 grams (seller characterizes the product as "High Quality Inner Root Bark")
    Purchased from: HerbalFire Botanicals
    What it is: The root bark of Mimosa hostilis, a plant native to Mexico, Central America, and South America, is a central ingredient of the psychedelic brew known as Ayahuasca. Mimosa's active ingredient is N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is illegal in the U.S. when sold in undiluted form.
    Method of consumption: Bark is boiled into a tea, often in combination with MAOIs that magnify the effects of the psychoactive ingredients.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states “None of the products sold are for human consumption” and “Do not ingest anything from this site.” Persons who are taking common psychiatric medicine such as Prozac and who ingest Mimosa hostilis combined with MAOIs could suffer seizures or even risk death, according to experts at the National Center for Natural Products Research, at the University of Mississippi.
  • Amanita Muscaria (dried stems and caps)


    Substance: Amanita muscaria
    Street name: Fly Agaric, Fly Amanita
    Purchased as: Amanita muscaria
    Price: $36 for 1 ounce
    Purchased from: SalviaSupply.com
    What it is: Amanita muscaria is a mushroom native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. It contains the psychoactive chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Method of consumption: Dried Amanita is typically eaten.
    Effects: Psychedelic
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice on the site states that products are "not intended for human consumption." According to experts at the University of Mississippi's National Center for Natural Products Research, some varieties Amanita muscaria may be confused with other Amanita species that are poisonous and sometimes fatal. The genus Amanita includes such extremely dangerous species as the death cap (Amanita phalloides) and the destroying angels (Amanita bisporigera, Amanita ocreata, and Amanita virosa), as well as some edible species like the Caesar's mushroom (Amanita caesareus).
  • Kratom


    Substance: Kratom (from Mitagyna speciosa)
    Street name: Kratom, Ketum, Thom
    Purchased as: Kratom Black Label
    Price: $30 for 3 grams
    Purchased from: SalviaSupply.com
    What it is: Kratom is made from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, native to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. The site’s description of the product says, in part, that "When larger doses are used, our customers report a feeling of euphoria comparable to opium based products."
    Method of consumption: Dried leaves are mixed with hot water and brewed into a tea.
    Effects: Users report feelings of euphoria or an opiate-like high.
    Warnings: A disclaimer notice at the site states that the products sold there are "not intended for human consumption." Independent drug dependency expert, Dr. Howard Samuels, executive director of the Wonderland Center, a Los Angeles drug rehab facility, says that kratom can be habit forming.
Show Comments

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?