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Lophophora and the Law

In Canada: Drug laws in Canada fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act- this was recently instated in 1996 replacing the Narcotics Control Act. One of the major differences between these acts relates to peyote. In the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, ( the new one) Mescaline is listed as a schedule III drug. This is exactly how it is written out in the act.

17. Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxybenzeneethanamine) and any salt thereof but not peyote (Lophophora)

So there you have it... Peyote is exempted from the act [1] - it is legal in Canada!! Regardless of recreational, religious or whatever use you want. There are no conditions on possessing or cultivating it.

Article 32 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances allows nations to exempt certain traditional uses of peyote from prohibition:

In the United States federal law and many state laws protects the harvest, possession, consumption and cultivation of peyote as part of "bonafide religious ceremonies" (the federal regulation is 42 USC §1996a, "Traditional Indian religious use of the peyote sacrament," exempting only Native American use, while most state laws exempt any general "bonafide religious activity"). American jurisdictions enacted these specific statutory exemptions in reaction to the U.S. Supreme court's decision in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that laws prohibiting the use of peyote that do not specifically exempt religious use nevertheless do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Although many American jurisdictions specifically allow religious use of peyote, religious or therapeutic use not under the aegis of the Native American Church has often been targeted by local law enforcement agencies, and non-natives attempting to establish spiritual centers based on the consumption of peyote as a sacrament or as medicine.

The latest example set force in the United States of America as to how the feds treat honest citizens when suspected of dealing with this amazing plant. Just click the link below to check out the horror story!!

Jon Sloan and his Fight against the Illegal Raid on His Lawful Business

Another Example American based case.
"An unusual case of harassment under the Drug Control Act took place in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in October, 1984, when a white couple, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Warner, were arrested by the FBI for possessing peyote, a controlled drug. The two were members of the NAC of Tokio, North Dakota, and had been for a number of years, and Mrs. Warner was custodian of the supply of peyote for the Tokio congregation. The FBI had learned of the possession of peyote by the Warners from the president of the NAC of NA (North America) Emerson Jackson (Navajo), so it was he who brought them to trial. Jackson said that they were not bona fide members of the NAC because they were not Indians. He maintained that in 1982 a motion had been passed by the NAC of NA to the effect that membership in that organization be limited to persons with one-quarter Indian blood, thereby excluding this white couple. A jury in Grand Forks Federal Court found the defendants innocent of breaking the law, since they were able to prove that although they were not Indians, nevertheless they were members in good standing of the local congregation of peyotists. The charges were dismissed.

This case not only illustrates harassment under the Drug Control Act, but it also brings up the legality of non-Indians as bona fide members of the NAC. From the beginning, attendance of non-Indians to peyote meetings has been a somewhat personal or tribal matter. For instance, very early in Oklahoma some Caddo refused to allow non-Indians to attend any of their meetings. But others, such as the Kiowa and Comanche, welcomed non-Indians, black or white, as long as they were seriously interested. With the formation of the NAC, the same attitude has generally prevailed, and the presence of non-Indians has been no problem. It was in the sixties when the hippie generation became interested in peyote and became a nuisance in the peyote gardens of Texas, bringing about the Texas law which forbids possession of peyote by persons not having one-quarter Indian blood and proof of membership in the NAC, that race became an issue in membership. Since then, if non- Indians wish to be allowed to possess peyote, they must show that their involvement in the peyote religion is genuine -that is that it is not just a recreational, frivolous, or passing interest but a real commitment. Then, as the case against the Warners shows, race is not an issue. Still, it is especially important for non-Indians to carry identification of membership in the NAC if they have occasion to carry peyote, and even so, non-Indians possessing peyote violate Texas law.

The ruling of the NAC of NA that only Indians should be enrolled in the Native American Church is new and is not shared by most peyotists. The NAC of NA does not speak for all peyotists, as much as it would like to do so. All peyotists consider themselves members of the Native American Church, but most are not affiliated with the NAC of NA. Each congregation makes its own rules, just as each meeting is conducted by its own roadman.

Today there are many peyote churches which have little to do with the NAC of NA. Some are large with wide jurisdiction; others are a single congregation."

Lophophora Williamsii with buds and fruit


email: dr_frank @ magicactus.com

Mailing address:
Frank Valente
56 Dewhurst Blvd.
Toronto, Ontario
M4J 3J3

© 2008, Frank Valente



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