Legal intoxicant

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Legal intoxicants, also known as legal drugs or, more commonly, as legal highs, are those intoxicating drugs which are either completely legal or not commonly prohibited by various drug laws. The most widely consumed legal intoxicant is alcohol—legal throughout the vast majority of the world's countries—but a wide array of other drugs are also not specifically banned in many international jurisdictions: these may vary from native intoxicating plants historically used by indigenous cultures to foodstuffs eaten in various parts of the world, to modern compounds and designer drugs that have not been defined as illegal, or even long-standing medicines that have intoxicating or anesthetic side effects. Where legislation imposes a general ban on psychoactive substances (as in Ireland), legal intoxicants are limited to those substances specifically exempted.



Mephedrone a dopaminergic, serotonergic, and adrenergic stimulant. It is legal to possess in some countries.


A mild stimulant found in coffee, tea, and soft drinks, among other sources, caffeine is one of the most widely consumed drugs, noted for its ability to promote wakefulness and provide energy. Caffeine is legal and unrestricted in all countries and jurisdictions, and is in modern times sold in over-the-counter medicines, although historically it was banned (often in the form of coffee) in at least several nations.


Nicotine is a stimulant drug most commonly found in tobacco products. Nicotine and tobacco products are regulated in most countries, and are usually only available for sale to adults: In many developed nations one is required to be 18 or 21—depending on the country—to purchase nicotine or tobacco products. Overall, the age required to purchase cigarettes—the most common tobacco product—ranges from 15 to 21 worldwide. The only nation in which tobacco products are completely banned from sale is Bhutan, and tobacco can only be imported into the country with the consequence of heavy taxation.


Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic amine that is an adrenergic receptor agonist and is used as a stimulant. The drug is found naturally in various plants in the genus Ephedra, most commonly sourced from Ephedra sinica (also known as ma huang) and historically consumed via a medicinal preparation of the same name. Although it is legal to possess and to purchase as an over-the-counter drug in the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of ephedrine and ephedra as herbal supplements in 2004.[1] In several countries, ephedrine, while once completely available, has become more difficult to obtain as increasingly strict laws have been passed over recent years. These laws often also apply to pseudoephedrine, a derivative chemical found in many over-the-counter medicines. Of chief concern to many lawmakers is the use of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in the production of methamphetamine.


Chewed nut popular in Asia, also known as the areca nut.

Calamus root[edit]

This herb has traditionally been smoked, eaten, or brewed into a tea.[citation needed] The Creek say that they can take Calamus root and 'travel great distances without touching the ground'.[citation needed] Today, the FDA defines calamus as 'not intended for human consumption' due to its beta-Asarone content.[citation needed]


Khat is a chewed leaf native to Africa with similar effects to coffee. It is illegal in the USA and many parts of Europe but legal in much of Africa.


Propylhexedrine is the active ingredient in Benzedrex inhalers. The user can swallow the cotton or extract it. It acts as a stimulant and can cause euphoria, music appreciation, and other effects, such as preventing the user from falling asleep.


Magic truffles[edit]

These species of truffles carry psilocybin and psilocin and have similar effects to magic mushrooms. The law in the Netherlands does not specifically outlaw truffles (only mushrooms) thus making them legal. Most are farmed in the Netherlands by the "Magic Truffles" company.[citation needed]

Mexican calea[edit]

Also called zacatechichi, this plant produces vivid dreams after smoking. It is also employed by the Chontal Maya people as a medicinal herb against gastrointestinal disorders, and is used as an appetizer, cathartic anti-dysentery remedy, and as a fever-reducing agent. Its psychedelic properties do not become apparent until the user is asleep.

Hawaiian baby woodrose[edit]

Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa) is a perennial climbing vine, also known as elephant creeper and woolly morning glory. The seeds of the plant contain the alkaloid LSA (ergine), which is a chemical analog of LSD. As such, they are sometimes used as a "legal" psychedelic. Ipomea Morning Glory seeds also contain LSA, but at a lower level. However, as LSA is a DEA Schedule III substance in the USA, the ingestion of LSA-containing plants could be prosecutable. In most countries in the EU, however, it is unregulated.

Peruvian Torch cactus[edit]

This cactus contains the psychedelic chemical mescaline. Most western nations ban pure mescaline, but in cacti, it remains legal. In the U.S. although illegal in many states, this cactus is still sold openly at many gardening stores. Some states like Utah allow it only for religious practices.

San Pedro cactus[edit]

San Pedro cactus contains mescaline which is illegal in most countries when isolated. This is the same active substance in the peyote cactus which can only be used legally by some Native American tribes which have a history of using the plant. San Pedro can be bought and sold and the tissues can also be bought (primary container) from online shops. In many countries, however, it is a serious crime to buy, sell or consume the cactus for reasons of intoxication (any other reason besides ornamental use), because the active ingredient in the cactus, mescaline, is a scheduled substance in those countries.

Peruvian torch and Peyote are both very similar to San Pedro, both being cacti that contain mescaline, and are used as entheogens.

Blue Egyptian water lily[edit]

Recent studies[citation needed] have shown Nymphaea caerulea to have psychedelic properties, and it may have been used as a sacrament in ancient Egypt and certain ancient South American cultures. Dosages of 5 to 10 grams of the flowers induces slight stimulation, a shift in thought processes, enhanced visual perception, and mild closed-eye visuals.[citation needed] Nymphaea caerulea is related to and possesses similar activity to Nelumbo nucifera, the Sacred Lotus. Both Nymphaea caerulea and Nelumbo nucifera contain the alkaloids nuciferine and apomorphine.[citation needed] These psychoactive effects make Nymphaea caerulea a likely candidate[according to whom?] (among several) for the lotus plant eaten by the mythical Lotophagi in Homer's Odyssey. Used in aromatherapy, Nymphaea caerulea is purported to have a divine essence, bringing euphoria, heightened awareness and tranquillity.[citation needed] Other sources[who?] cite anti-spasmodic, sedative, purifying and calming properties.

Fly agaric[edit]

Amanita muscaria, commonly known as fly agaric, is used throughout Europe, Asia and North America and is best known by its bright red cap covered with white spots. Amanita muscaria contains the active chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol. It is usually boiled before being eaten and has been known to produce hallucinations. It was not affected by the United Kingdom ban on psilocybin and can be bought legally throughout the United Kingdom.[2] As of 26 May 2016 The UK Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 banned all legal intoxicants.


Peyote is a cactus found in North America, mainly in the area composed by south-western United States and the entire northwest of Mexico (where is common to find wild peyote), used by Native cultures. It gives similar effects to LSD. This drug is regulated under U.N. law but the only nation to ban and enforce the ban has been Canada. In the U.S., after a major legal trial, Peyote was deemed legal as long as it was used in Native American churches (it is not required to be Native American or a church member to use it in the said church).

Colorado River toad[edit]

Colorado river toad is a psychoactive toad found in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The venom of the toad species Bufo alvarius contains 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin, which is smoked once extracted from the toad. Several other toad species in the Bufo genus and a few other toad genera contain 5-MeO-DMT and bufotenin, but not in noticeably psychoactive quantities.[3]



Cannabis is a source of phytocannabinoids. It is legal to possess in some countries including Portugal, the Netherlands, Uruguay, and North Korea. Cannabis has also become increasingly popular and socially acceptable; this has led to recreational marijuana laws passed in the following states:Nevada, Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Maine, California and Oregon.

Synthetic cannabis[edit]

These substances are most commonly found in incense products most commonly used for smoking, and are legal in most (but not all) circumstances. The legality of synthetic cannabinoids vary between different states and countries. Some of them are as potent as (if not more potent than) THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. Herbal mixes have varying effects depending on the cannabinoids in the mix and the amount of those. Herbs listed on the packaging of Spice include Canavalia maritima, Nymphaea caerulea, Scutellaria nana, Pedicularis densiflora, Leonotis leonurus, Zornia latifolia, Nelumbo nucifera, and Leonurus sibiricus.[citation needed] Most synthetic cannabinoids sold legally will be packets of plant matter sprayed with chemicals, such as JWH-018 or JWH-073. Synthetic cannabinoids are generally more potent than natural cannabis.[4]


Salvia divinorum[edit]

Salvia divinorum plant

Salvia divinorum, commonly known as salvia, is a psychoactive plant native to Oaxaca, Mexico, which can induce dissociative effects and hallucinations which may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. It is commonly reported that there is a threshold dose, below which the plant likely won't produce any effects in the user, so a high dose is sometimes required. It has been linked to long usage as an entheogen by the indigenous Mazatec shamans for healing during spirit journeys. Salvia divinorum remains legal in most countries; within the United States, is illegal in the majority of states. There have not been many publicized prosecutions of individuals violating anti-salvia laws in the few countries and states in which it has been made illegal. The effects are very powerful and can be quite terrifying to the user.


The specific species is Artemisia vulgaris, which has known to be used in "dream quests" for ages.[citation needed]

African dream root[edit]

S. undulata is regarded by the Xhosa people as a sacred plant. Its root is traditionally used to induce vivid (and according to the Xhosa, prophetic) lucid dreams during the initiation process of shamans, classifying it a naturally occurring oneirogen similar to the more well-known dream herb Calea zacatechichi.


Dextromethorphan is an antitussive (cough-suppressant) drug found in many over-the-counter cold and cough medicines. When taken at doses higher than are medically recommended, dextromethorphan is classified as a dissociative hallucinogenic drug. It can produce effects similar to those of the controlled substances phencyclidine and ketamine.

Nitrous oxide[edit]

Nitrous oxide is also known as "laughing gas". One of the most common inhalants, nitrous oxide is also known as "whippits", after the common brand-name of the charging cartridges used in food service whipped-cream dispensers, or NOS after the brand-name Nitrous Oxide Systems which produce nitrous oxide-based power enhancement systems for internal combustion engines (commonly used by drag racers). Most inhalants are directly neurotoxic, except for nitrous, amyl nitrate, and ether to an extent. Although nitrous depletes vitamin B12 from the body, this isn't a concern for the occasional user since most animal foods have the vitamin, particularly beef, lamb, and pork. However, chronic use can cause a severe B12 deficiency, which can cause psychological, neurological, and other physiological harm. Nitrous oxide is commonly administered by using a charging cartridge and whipped cream dispenser to inflate a balloon, the contents of which is then inhaled in and out until the balloon is empty. The 'high' can be extremely intense, often causing the user to laugh uncontrollably and producing a dissociative (or 'spaced out') sensation, but this typically lasts no more than two minutes. The legality of this substance depends on the intent of the user, according to California Penal Code Section 381b.


Methoxetamine is a chemical analog of ketamine and PCP. Its use was first publicly reported in 2010. This is no longer legal.


Deliriant use is generally regarded as unpleasant, even by regular drug users.


Mandragora officinarum is a species of the plant genus mandrake. Historically, it has been associated with a variety of superstitious practices. Its deliriant effects have been well documented and famed.

Diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate[edit]

Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine and a sedative and is available over-the-counter for allergy relief and for use as a sleep aid and dimenhydrinate is available over-the-counter for alleviation of motion sickness. Recreational users take many times (>250 mg) the therapeutic dose to achieve a state of delusional delirium.


Datura species (especially Datura stramonium, commonly known as Jimson weed) are common poisonous weeds in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. They contain tropane alkaloids that are sometimes used as a hallucinogen. The active ingredients are atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants. It can be smoked, eaten or made into a tea. Recreational use of datura is extremely dangerous and generally regarded as unpleasant, even by regular drug users.[5]


Nutmeg contains myristicin and elemicin which were both considered psychoactive chemicals. Myristicin, along with being a deliriant, is also a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor.[6]


Alcoholic beverages[edit]

Wine has been used to induce drunkenness for millennia.

Alcoholic beverages contain the psychoactive drug ethanol (grain alcohol, C2H5OH), with a depressant effect. They are legal in most of the world (except some Muslim countries), although their use is restricted almost everywhere.


Kava (Piper methysticum) is an ancient crop of the western Pacific that contain kavalactones responsible for its psychoactive effects. The onset of a moderate potency kava drink is 20–30 minutes, with effects usually lasting for two hours but effects can be felt up to eight hours after ingestion.[citation needed]

Diethyl ether[edit]

A solvent sedative used medically as an anesthetic and recreationally for its effects similar to alcohol. It is more potent than alcohol and has less "hang over" effect. It is generally legal due its wide use as lab chemical and solvent for industry.


Inhalants are commonly used in many parts of the world for their powerful but short lived psychoactive effects; the most common group to use inhalants are young[clarification needed] people.[citation needed]


Also known as poppers. Nitrites include amyl, butyl, methyl, isopropol, isobutal, ethyl, alkyl and the newer "US" formula containing cyclohexyl nitrite (the only nitrite to not currently require a prescription).[citation needed] Originally used as anti-anginal heart medication to lower blood pressure and even as an antidote to cyanide poisoning. Products are advertised as odorisers, leather cleaner and video head cleaner.[citation needed]


An opioid is a chemical substance that has a morphine-like action in the body. Most opioids are not legal for over the counter purchase; However, some products that are legal (poppy seeds, poppy pods, and poppy plant material) contain morphine, codeine, and other analgesic opiates. Many of these products may be purchased legally but it is illegal to use them for anything other than cooking and decorative purposes.[citation needed] Codeine can be purchased over the counter in some jurisdictions,[7] but it's usually mixed with paracetamol to discourage recreational use. The paracetamol, however, can be removed fairly easily by manipulation of the different solubility of paracetamol and codeine in cold water.[citation needed]

  • Kratom , although exhibiting opioid-like qualities, is a legal leaf-based coffee plant native to Thailand and Indonesia. Kratom is illegal in Tennessee (as of July 1, 2013); Wisconsin; Indiana; Sarasota County, Florida; and Ontario City, Oregon.
  • Lettuce opium, the milky substance between lettuce plants, specifically lactucarium, was once a common medicinal substitute for opium in 1800s England. It is believed[by whom?] to give effects and a high similar to opium.
  • California poppy is a legal smoking poppy that has similar effects to opium but no addictive qualities.[citation needed]
  • Calandine, otherwise known as Chelidonium majus, is a poppy species smoked in the Middle Ages.[citation needed]

See also[edit]