A New Chapter in the Drug War

In what I see as quite a surprise, the US Supreme Court declared it legal for a group in the US to consume a mind-altering tea, a version of ayahuasca. Ayahuasca has been used by indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. It is considered a sacred drink that is consumed by both shamans, and lay people in ceremonies devoted to healing. Shamans have insisted that the plant speaks to them, and consider it the voice of the vine. This 'voice' apparently has provided shamans with information concerning the vast world of plants in the Amazon and their myriad uses.
In Brazil and other places, the tea has been co-opted by religious groups who perform group ceremonies for healing/religious purposes in the modern setting of the city. This type of group had formed in the US, and the ingredients for the tea were confiscated by the DEA. According to a BBC article:

The hoasca tea is considered sacred to members of the group, O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal. In its ruling, the court said the government must allow the use of the tea under religious freedom laws. Roberts wrote that federal drug agents should have been barred from confiscating the tea.

Perhaps this signals a shift away from harsh and unjustifiable drug laws that have criminalized the use of sacred substances that have little to no possibility for abuse. Either way it is a surprise that the conservative court has ruled in favor of this group who now may continue to "understand god" without fear of the feds breaking down their doors.

Here is the NYTimes article about the decision, which goes into a bit more detail...
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  1. An unexpected fall out of the religious right maybe? Restricting one leads to precedents to restrict others, including their own.

  2. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Hmmm... restrictions for religions? I think you might be on to something here. This administration especially has really brought Christianity and corporatism (a religion in its own right) into the forefront of the US government. They certainly are NOT putting any restrictions on these two bed fellows, and perhaps there is a fear that restricting another type of religion (even one they may despise) could be a dangerous precedent to set after they have made so many gains for themselves.


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