Somewhere between the universe being ripped wide open in front of your eyes and a light-speed ride through a linear dimension to the post-apocalypse, you realize this ain’t your normal bong hit. So we’re told.

In last year’s double issue, City Paper included a story about what it’s like to smoke salvia divinorum (the “diviner’s sage”), which is legally available in most states. Exchange Factor on Meeting Street immediately sold out of their supply by week’s end. The majority of their new customers were over 40 years old — post-Boomers looking for a legal buzz.

By April, the General Assembly had moved to ban the Mexican plant, but that bill never passed. As of this week, Exchange Factor’s two locations had sold 792 boxes of the salvia extract in 2008, a 30 percent increase over last year’s sales. Each box, available in five levels of potency, contains a small bag of the plant powder inside — enough for five “experiences.”

“There is always going to be something out there other than alcohol to get an experience from,” says Joan Graf, the owner of Exchange Factor. “People will always want an escape from paying bills and running red lights. There are plenty of other things to take salvia’s place.”

In the rack next to salvia at the store, there are a handful of other interesting looking organic materials. But, if and when salvia’s taken off the (legal) market, don’t be surprised to read “what it’s like” stories in years to come about the fly agaric mushroom, kratom, and Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds.

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