Dimethyltryptamine (DMT): In the news

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 1:48 pm

DMT has been the focus of a controversial court case in Santa Fe, New Mexico that began in late 2000. In the case, members of the O Centra Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV), a religious organization with approximately 500 members in the U.S., are alleging that the United States government violated their constitutional right of freedom of religion.
The allegation stems from an incident on May 21, 1999, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized 30 gallons of a DMT-containing tea called hoasca from the office of the church president. UDV church members claim hoasca is an essential sacrament, like peyote is to the Native American church. At the time, no church members were arrested or charged with any crime.
On November 1, 2000, UDV members sued the DEA. Nancy Hollander, the attorney representing UDV, tried to get a preliminary injunction blocking the federal government from interfering with the group’s practice of drinking hoasca.
To help argue the point that the confiscation of the DMT-containing tea was arbitrary, Hollander brought in to court plants from two Albuquerque nurseries that were freely available to the public. The plants — phalaris grass and San Pedro cactus — contain DMT and mesca-line, respectively. Hollander questioned a DEA agent why no effort has been made to confiscate these plants as well. As of early 2002, the case had not been settled.


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