Getting High on Kava by Vaping & Drinking it as a Tea

Getting High on Kava by Vaping It

Kava is an herb that is harvested from a shrub that grows in the South Sea islands. Although it is useful for anxiety, restlessness, sleep disturbances, and stress, there are safety concerns following several reports of hepatotoxicity and liver failure occurring with relatively normal doses used for a short term. Kava is considered unsafe due to many reports of fatal effects on the liver, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

Many people from the South Pacific use this to get high on Kava on a routine basis. Officers have run across people high on Kava and have asked a number of questions about its use as an intoxicant. Most Importantly, Kava is a CNS Depressant. That means that a person under the influence of Kava will have the signs and symptoms of CNS Depressant use. Those signs and symptoms will include horizontal gaze nystagmus, a lack of convergence and possibly vertical gaze nystagmus. Essentially, they will appear as if they are drunk on alcohol without the odor of an alcoholic beverage on their person.

Some of the common names for kava include Kava; Kawa; Awa; Waka; Lawena; Sakau; Yaqona.

Ways People are Getting High on Kava

Brewing it in a tea:  This was the most common way of doing kava. Users would grind up the kava into a powder and mix it into a tea and drink it.

Kava capsules: That same powder is put in gelatin capsules and then swallowed to get high.

Smoking: Some people have reportedly smoked kava to get high.

Vaping: vaping is a new way of getting high on kava. Users will extract kava from the kava plant much like you would from extracting honey oil from marijuana. We have a great article on how to do that here.

If you want to read a thread on users commenting on getting high on kava, you can visit this link on

Kava and the law

Kava is legal to possess and consume in the United States. However, other laws may apply for a person abusing it. As an example, there have been people arrested for driving under the influence of Kava. If you are an officer and encounter a person high on kava, conduct a standard DUI investigation that you have been trained for. You may also want to document the following if you observe it: nystagmus and lack of convergence, pulse rate, speech pattern, general appearance (drunken appearance, etc), condition of eyelids (droopy, etc), and condition of eyes.

Here are some general characteristics of CNS Depressant influence:

Author: Keith Graves
Keith is a retired Police Sergeant and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 29 years. Keith was named as California’s Narcotics Officer of the Year and is a prior winner of MADD’s California Hero Award. He has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor and is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292). Keith teaches both the DRE course and the Drug Abuse Recognition Course and has taught at the Police Academy. He has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges and currently consults POST on drug investigation procedures. Keith has held other assignments besides narcotics including Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, COPPS Officer, Traffic Officer, and 20 years as a SWAT Team member and Sniper Team Leader. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. He is recognized as an international drug expert and has testified as an expert in court proceedings on drug cases, homicide cases and rape prosecutions. Keith earned a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary's College of California and a MA in Criminal Justice. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry.

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