‘Incense’: Legal herb known to pack a punch, but what is it?

2012-04-16 00:00

MOTHERS, hide your herbs. There’s a new smoking sensation doing the rounds, and according to those who sell and distribute it, it’s mainly made of sage.

According to its website, Nitro Grass is a “100% legal and 100% lethal” herbal incense made of natural products. None of these ingredients is named on the website or the current packaging. The packaging does warn, however, that the product is “not intended for human consumption”.

But Quinton Lewis, a distributor of the product, says that Nitro Grass’s primary ingredient is the herb sage.

Lewis orders the 1,25g bags of Nitro Grass from New Zealand. The product apparently does not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive agent in marijuana — and is not sprayed with other illegal components.

“We don’t use any of that stuff,” Lewis explained. “They [the South African police] tested it for 20 narcotics including THC and it passed for all of them.”

This means that the substance will not interfere with drug or urine tests. Synthetic substances are legal in South Africa provided that they are not direct derivates of marijuana.

Nitro Grass is therefore advertised as legal and sold countrywide.

Sean Hall, who sells Nitro Grass, said the product sold for R30 to R40 in local outlets, including restaurants and tobacco shops.

Hall said Nitro Grass smelt like ordinary herbs, but it delivered quite a kick when used as tobacco rather than incense.

“It’s used in a few ways,” Hall said. “It’s potent, it’s very strong.”

Neither Lewis nor Hall could explain which component of the product was responsible for its potency.

Lewis said new packaging had been designed for the latest batches of Nitro Grass and the labels would list all its ingredients.

He has had a few complaints from people who smoked Nitro Grass while they were drunk and felt ill afterwards.

The new packaging would therefore also contain a “no alcohol” warning, Lewis said, so that people did not confuse their hangovers with something more ominous.

Nitro Grass can be bought locally. Potential buyers may want to wait for the new packaging first, so they know exactly what it is they are inhaling.

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