Mescaline: Law and order
Last modified: Monday, 1. June 2009 - 6:00 am
Exempting peyote from the federal substance abuse schedule is not so easy. Consider how some states interpret this law. Arizona and Oregon contend that as long as peyote is used with “sincere religious intent,” uses are exempt. In Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, and New Mexico, users must be members of a “bona fide religious organization.” Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin designate its use “only within an NAC ceremony.” NAC membership is required in Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming, with Idaho and Texas further requiring that a person be of Native American descent. Kansas also states that incarcerated people are not exempt from the illegalities of using peyote regardless of any NAC affiliation.
Texas is often singled out as having laws closely aligned to old Jim Crow laws that determined whether someone was of African American descent by determining their percentage of African American blood. For the peyote exemption under Texas law, an NAC member must have at least 25% Native American blood.
Added to the confusion is the right of a church to determine its membership. Some chapters of the NAC say that anyone, even non-Indians, may be members of the church and participate in their ceremonies. Others restrict membership to Native Americans only. They may do this legally as the civil rights laws do not apply to churches.
All of these variations in interpretation of the law serve to keep it an ongoing and hot topic as the legalities and illegalities are interpreted according to state and federal law. Peyote remains a Schedule I, hallucinogen, and its use is punishable by law. The exemption for the NAC is subject to state interpretation and many cases often go all the way to the Supreme Court.