I found this topic while looking for something else, but I think it's interesting enough so I will give some input.
A) Hell yeah! These are very nice for modifying your environment and enhancing mood. Powerful imagery+music(vocal or nonvocal) can have impressive effects. Many of us know probably know that.
B)Now this is a touchy subject on this board. I'm sure you understand that as an organization, the COS CANNOT condone any illegal activity. But you mentioned legal
I have just recently turned in a lengthy research paper on this topic and earned an A. The project included interviews with experts, and a friend of my father who is a professor at the University of Southern California, so I think I have at least a little authority on this topic.
After such research, I now support the idea that you can use such substances such as salvia to reach altered states, enhance what you mentioned in (A), and they can give you various insights depending on the usage and the user, and even promote creativity among other things.
Some substances open up things already inside your head, which can be good or bad if you have repressed memories and such.
A good strong ego is essential.
Some substances make you more involved with things important to you such as your religion, view on life, etc.
It really depends on the particular substance, the user, the dose, and the method of taking.
There is a world of difference between the responsible/intelligent user and the worthless/ruined drug addict, crackhead, alcoholic, etc.
It must be stressed that one has to be very responsible, careful, and appreciate what he/she is getting into.
Research about the specific substance you are taking and read about its legality, its long term and short term effects on the body and mind, and safety tips and such. Seek info from people who have already tried the substance.
I mentioned Salvia, (Salvia divinorum, aka Sage, María Pastora, Seer's sage, Sally-D) which is a psychoactive plant that can induce various mind-altering effects.
When and if you actually do this, it is important to keep in mind: set and settingSet
is how your state on mind is when you do it. You need to feel safe, secure, and be positive, and appreciate and know what you are about to take. It is good to concentrate or meditate on something, like aspects of your life or a problem you want to solve.Setting
is your environment. It is always best to be with trusted friends. Take turns doing it so somebody is sober and can help if something goes wrong. Be in a place that you are comfortable in. A familiar place or amongst pleasant nature is recommended.
If it is Salvia you want, which is legal where I live, you can obtain it at most smoke stores. I recommend this site which sells reliable, standardized products, and their descriptions and instructions are easy to understand: http://salviaworld.com/
Start from green and work your way up. You can chew it, smoke it, or drink it in a tea.
There are a number of other herbs or substances out there.
There is a lot of misconception about these things, and people like to make assumptions about things they don't know. So get your info from reliable sources such as:http://www.erowid.org/http://www.thegooddrugsguide.com/
If you are interested in marijuana(since many people are), you need to really read about the legality and licensing in your region(come to California sometime where they are very close to legalizing it). The website above and others gives good info on protecting yourself from harmful effects.
It can make food taste better, music sound better, things funnier, and just give you a good time with your friends with [surprisingly] relatively little harm to you body and low toxicity level.
When I was in middle school, my parents with the recommendation of my doctor, got me a license to eliminate my nausea as well as stimulate my appetite. But it also has the extra benefit of reducing my speaking problem.
I am now a healthy man about to enter my sophomore year at the California Institute of Technology, I lift weights, hike, study, and I don't do pot anymore (no effort to let go). I think my guided experience with these substances have had a positive effect on my life.
I feel sorry for the stupid/weak stoners or crackheads, or screwed up hippies who think it's cool to have their lives ruined up by these things.
On second thought, NO! I have no sympathy for criminals who waste my tax dollars for their welfare/rehab/prison maintenance, and give bad names for these potentially beneficial substances which scientists could have researched on.
So back to the topic at hand:
I say in general, be informed, be responsible, have good set and setting, and be LEGAL!!
If the harms outweighs the benefits, don't do it!