In February of 1987, Dr. Andrew Weil gave the following testimony at Reverend Immanuel Trujillo's trial for possession of one peyote button.
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IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA
IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF GILA
STATE OF ARIZONA, Plaintiff,
vs. IMMANUEL PARDEAHTAN TRUJILLO, Defendant.
Gila County Cause No. CR-8953
REPORTER'S TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
(Testimony of ANDREW T. WEIL during Trial)
FEBRUARY 12, 1987
HONORABLE ALLEN G. MINKER
Judge of the Superior Court
PEYOTE WAY CHURCH OF GOD
COCONINO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT
For the State:
CANDYCE B. PARDEE, ESQ., Deputy County Attorney
For the Defendant:
ANNA C. ORTIZ, ESQ., Attorney at Law
(LERRYN HORTON ROBERDS was duly sworn to act as Official Court Reporter herein.)
THE COURT: Ms. Ortiz, you may call your first witness.
MS. ORTIZ: Yes. I would like to call Dr. Andrew Weil.
(Whereupon, the witness was duly sworn by the Deputy Clerk.)
ANDREW T. WEIL called as a witness herein, having first been duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows.
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MS. ORTIZ
Q. Good morning, sir. Will You state your name for the record, please
A. Andrew Thomas Weil, W-e-i-l.
Q. And will you tell us, please, where you live and where you -- you're employed?
A. I live at 1975 West Hunter Road, Tucson, 85704. I'm employed by the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Q. And will you summarize your educational background, please? A. I have a bachelors degree in botany from Harvard University, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, 1968. I did an internship at Mount Zion Hospital and Medical Center in San Francisco.
Q. Okay. Can you summarize your work background since you obtained your medical degree?
A. I spent a year in the public health service stationed with the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington D.C. I then held a fellowship for three and a half years from a foundation called the Institute of Current World Affairs, and that was for the purpose of studying the use of psychoactive plants in other cultures in North America, South America and Africa. I have been employed -- I've been self-employed as a general practitioner in Tucson, and also as an author and lecturer and researcher of medicinal and psychoactive plants.
Q. Could you summarize your work background in botany?
A. As I said, my undergraduate work at Harvard was in botany and I worked under the direction of a professor named Richard Shultes,who was for many years the Director of the Harvard Botanical Museum. He is the leading expert in the world on hallucinogenic plants,and my undergraduate work concentrated on the botany and chemistry and use of medicinal and psychoactive plants; that is plants that have effects on mental function, and in medical school I continued those research interests. In my senior year of medical school, I conducted the first controlled human experiments with marijuana. That was in 1968, in Boston, and for 12 years from 1971, until 1983, I was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted studies of medicinal and toxic and psychoactive plants.
Q. Would you explain to the Court what your current duties with the University of Arizona Medical School -- what are your current duties with the University of Arizona Medical School?
A. I teach in courses for first and second-year medical students, and I lecture on the subject of drug and substance abuse. Also, on the subject of botanical medicine and alternative medicine.
Q. Do you hold any awards and honors, Doctor?
Q. And can you tell me what professional organizations you belong to?
A. I'm a member of Sigma [sigma si] which is the National Scientific Research Fraternity, in the Harvard Chapter of that. I'm on the editorial Boards of two journals, the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs and the Journal of ethnopharmacology which studies the uses of plants with medicinal effects as used in other cultures.
Q. Can you summarize some of your publications?
A. I've written four books. Three of them are on the subject of drugs and mental effects of drugs. The first one was titled The Natural Mind. It was published in 1972. The second was titled The Marriage of the Sun and Moon in 1980. The third is Chocolate to Morphine, about all substances that have effects on the mind, and that was published in 1983, and the fourth book on the subject of alternative medicine. I've written over a hundred articles in botanical and pharmacological journals on the subject of mind-active drugs and numerous articles and in popular magazines.
Q. You stated that you were on the editorial board of a journal that was concerned with ethnobotany. Is one of your research interests ethnobotany?
A. Yes. Which, actually, more specifically ethnopharmacology, which is the study of natural drugs as used in other cultures and in subcultures in this country. So, for example, the kind of plants that are used for medicinal and psychoactive purposes by Indian tribes in various parts of the world.
Q. In your research background, have you had occasion or have you ever studied peyote?
A. Yes, I have. My undergraduate work, I said was under the direction of Richard Shultes. Shultes wrote the first comprehensive study of the peyote church in America that was published by Harvard University in 1939, so in doing my botanical studies with him, I first became interested in peyote. I wrote a paper about it while I was still an undergraduate and read all of the existing literature on the subject, and then in later years as part of my investigations of hallucinogenic plants, I interviewed numerous users of peyote, both Indians and non-Indians, in this country, people who were part of the Native American Church and people who used it outside of that religious function as well.
Q. Have you ever observed individuals using Peyote?
A. Yes. I've observed both individuals using peyote and individuals using isolated mescaline.
Q. Can you tell us what peyote is?
A. Peyote is a cactus. It's botanically known as Lophophora, L-o-p-h-o-r-a. The species name is williamsii, as in williams with a double"i" on the end, and it's a spineless cactus which is native to the Rio Grande Valley region of South Eastern New Mexico, Texas,and extending down into North Central Mexico, specifically in the area around San Luis Potosi.
Q. Are there more than one species of peyote?
A. There are two species of peyote that are recognized by botannists. There is a minor species called Lophophora, L-o-p-h-o-r-a, and the second name is diffusa, d-i double f-u-s-a. Lophophora, by the way, in Latin, means bear tufts, because the peyote cactus has tufts of silver hair rather than spines like most cactus.
Q. Do the different species of peyote have a different effect on the human body when ingested?
A. There has not been much pharmacological work with the minor species, Lophophora diffusa, and the few chemical reports in existence on it say that it has a very low content of alkaloids. Alkaloids are the category of chemicals that are responsible for the effects of this cactus, and in particular that it's very low in mescaline which is the main alkaloid that causes visual hallucinations. So the main species Lophophora williamsii is the one we're interested in and the one used by people for its effects on the mind.
Q. Where does diffusa grow?
A. Diffusa grows only in a limited region in Northern Mexico and does not extend into the United States.
Q. Are you aware of whether diffusa has ever been used by humans?
A. As far as I know, it has not.
Q. Is it likely that as peyote becomes harder to get, that williamsii becomes more difficult to find, that individuals might begin using diffusa?
A. Possible, but if the chemical reports on it are accurate, that is so low in alkaloid content, I imagine most users would not find it satisfactory
Q. Is it readily visible in the ground where they're growing?
A. Not unless they're in flowers. The flowers of diffusa are white and yellow, and the flowers of Williamsii are pink. Also, with williamsii the head of the plant is strongly -- strongly segmented. There are creases that give a very distinct pattern. Diffusa, the lines on the surface of the plant are much less apparent, are much less diffuse. That's why it's called diffusa. So I think somebody with sufficient botanical expertise would be able to I distinguish them.
Q. So the average individual who was gathering these in the desert would not necessarily be able to distinguish between the two species?
A. Not necessarily.
Q. Would it be correct to assume, then, for the average individual who has no background of botany, that unless this was in flower, it would be probably virtually impossible?
A. I would think it would be hard.
Q. Would you summarize for us what exactly mescaline is?
A. Mescaline is first of all an alkaloid that is one of a group of chemicals that are found in plants that have effects on animal physiology, and it's considered a hallucinogenic alkaloid, one which causes marked changes in perception in human beings. It is the only naturally occurring example of a group of alkaloids which are known to have hallucinogenic properties. There are a number of synthetic variations of that molecule which have been used by people seeking hallucinogenic effects, and it's related to -- there are two families of hallucinogenic drugs. One includes LSD and that's well known, and there's another family in which mescaline belongs and it's the only naturally ocurring one in that group.
Q. Can you distinguish, Doctor, for us the difference between the term "opiate" and "alkaloids"?
A. An opiate is a derivative of the opium Poppy or a chemical -- a synthetic chemical that resembles the molecular structure of the molecules found in the opium poppy. Opiates are alkaloids. Alkaloids is a general term. The definition of alkaloids is a molecule, first of all, that comes from a plant. Secondly, that contains nitrogen and, third, that gives a weak alkaline reaction in solutions, and many of these -- this is a very broad grouping of chemicals, and many of them have striking effects when they're eaten by animals or human beings. So the commonest category of drugs that we get from plants are alkaloids. All of the opium derivatives are alkaloids. Caffeine is an alkaloid. Nicotine is an alkaloid.
Q. How is an opiate different from mescaline?
A. There is no relationship between an opiate and mescaline. These have, first of all, different chemical structures. The molecules look nothing alike, and the physiological effects are very different. Opium molecules cause depression of vital functions, like respiration. Mescaline is a stimulant that effects other receptors and other systems in the brain. It is true that both of these are alkaloids, but except for that general loose chemical grouping, they I have nothing else in common.
Q. I believe that you said that mescaline was the primary active ingredient in peyote. That's the ingredient that individuals would be expecting to cause hallucinations and the effects they're looking for?
A. That's not an easy question to answer. Mescaline is certainly the ingredient of peyote that is mainly responsible for the visual hallucinations, but peyote is an astonishing rich source of alkaloids. In fact, it's one of the most alkaloid-rich plants that we know of. There are at least 50 different alkaloids in peyote. The effects of many of those alkaloids never have been studied. The effect of eating peyote is due to the interaction of all of these alkaloids. It can't be equated with eating pure mescaline, and so I think that that creates a lot of confusion in research because most of the research had been done with isolated mescaline, and not with peyote. I don't think the two are equivalent.
Q. Are there any opiates in peyote?
A. No. There are no opiates in peyote.
Q. Is there a difference, Doctor, between a naturally ocurring mescaline and a synthetic mescaline?
A. No. It's the same molecule.
Q. So a synthetic mescaline and a natural-recurring mescaline, you would expect to react on the human body in exactly the same manner. Is that correct?
A. That's correct. The difference between peyote and mescaline, whether isolated from the plant or synthesized, because in peyote, as I said, you're getting mescaline mixed with many, many, many other alkaloids which modify its effect.
Q. Can you summarize for us what the physiological effects of peyote would be if somebody ingested peyote?
A. The -- I won't talk about psychological effects. I'11 just talk about physiological effects.
A. The initial effects if a sufficient dose is eaten is, first of all, probably within 30 minutes to an hour, some feelings of physiological distress, nausea, discomfort, fullness in the stomach, sweating, chills. These symptoms may last for one to two hours, and then usually subside and are replaced by a feeling of calmness, relaxation during which the psychological changes will occur, and the total length of effects of eating a sufficient dose of peyote are probably in the range of 10 to 12 hours.
Q. Can you tell us what you mean by sufficient dose?
A.The peyote is usually consumed in the form of dried buttons which are slices of the top of the plant that have been dried. There probably is variation in the alkaloids and mescaline content of different kinds of peyote, and there might be differences in the thickness of the slices and the way that they were dried, and so forth. But, in general, I would say that an average dose of peyote by users in both Indian ceremonies and not, would be in the range of six to twelve dried buttons. The minimum dose that is reported in all of the studies that have been made of peyote users is in the range of three to four buttons. Below that it is unlikely there will be any effects at all, and in Indian ceremonies it's not uncommon for participants to eat upwards of 20 buttons, and I have run into individuals who eat 60 buttons at one time in a ceremony.
Q. Can you summarize what the subjective effects of the ingestion of peyote is?
A. I can't, because in my experience with peyote and with mescaline and with other hallucinogenic drugs, the subjective effects are almost entirely dependent on set and setting. That is the expectation of the user and the environment in which the substance is consumed. So, for example, a subject in a research laboratory who eats a dose of peyote may have a totally different subjective experience from a person in an Indian religious ceremonial who eats the same dose. I think often people will experience colored hallucinations, colored visions seen with the eyes closed, but that, too, is very much dependent on set and setting. In the Native American Church, Native American people eat peyote for the purpose of seeing visions, and there's great emphasis on looking for visions and seeing them. In contrast, non-Indians who eat peyote in sufficient doses outside of ceremonies may not see visions at all. So, in other words, whether you see visions or not is not really a matter of pharmacology. It's a matter of who you are and what you're looking for and what is the cultural context in which you look for it, and I think that also extends to whether peyote causes feelings of bliss or whether it makes people feel anxious. There really is no simple answer to that question of what are the subjective effects.
Q. You testified earlier that you had -- you, yourself, had personally observed individuals using peyote. Can you summarize what sort of settings these people were in and what you observed?
A. The usual setting that I have observed is I people in groups which ranged from a dozen people, up to 20 people who consumed peyote in some sort of ritual ceremonial fashion. That is they were taking it for the purpose of having religious experiences or transcendental experiences. They took it in some kind of ritual manner. There was often music or drumming as part of the ceremony. They would sit in a circle, and the usual effects that I observed were the people became quiet, sat still for long periods of time and seemed to enter states of great concentration and absorption. Often they had their eyes closed for long periods of time. They seemed in intense states of concentration and would often stay that way for long periods of time that the substance was working on them.
Q. What would you expect to observe in an individual who had been using peyote for a number of years-- say, 30 -- 40 years?
A. I think the more experience they have -- the user has with peyote, the less outward change I would expect to observe in that person. In other words, someone not familiar with the substance, I think would be much more likely to show obvious changes when viewed from outside. Whereas, somebody who was very experienced with it, I think you might see them sitting quietly in a room and would not even know that they had taken a substance like that.
Q. Would the age and the size of an individual play into any of this as far as the physiological effects?
A. I don't think age would. I think size might. In general, a larger person will require a larger dose, but there's also a lot of variation in individual sensitivity to the alkaloids in peyote. So even there, it's hard to generalize about that.
Q. Is there some way to measure the -- the amount of the content of the mescaline that would be in somebody's system -- bloodstream or body?
A. That could be done. It would be a very difficult analysis to do, and expensive -- most laboratories are not equipped to do that kind of analysis. But, yes, it's possible.
Q. Do we know enough about peyote to set some standards and some perimeters for safe use? For instance, you said that it would take six to seven buttons to affect an individual. Could we as a society -- could we set some limits on safe use of peyote? Say, three or four buttons, or--
A. I think that would also be hard because the range of dosage that's used in the real world is so great. As I said, there are individuals that eat 60 buttons at a time and have no adverse effects from that and, again, I think that would be more a matter of a person's experience and the context in which the substance was used that would determine safety, more than the number of buttons eaten.
Q. Could you -- well, I'11 come back to that. Is peyote physiologically addictive?
A. No, it's not.
Q. Have you ever seen -- well, maybe I should back up a little. Can you tell me approximately how many times in your experience you have observed individuals using peyote?
A. Well, in terms of numbers of individuals, I would probably say between eighty and a hundred.
Q. And have you ever seen peyote produce violent reactions in these individuals?
A. No. I have not.
Q. Now, you said that you have seen people take as much as 60 buttons and not appear to have any effects. Would there be any physiologically-measurable effects?
A. Well, people may vomit initially after eating such a high dose of peyote. Again, people who are used to eating it, may not, but there might be a period--I think with very high doses of that, it's not uncommon for people to have severe nausea and a brief period of vomiting.
Q. What about blood pressure and--
A. I have not made those studies myself, but I peyote can cause a slight increase in blood pressure.
Q. Does it affect coordination?
A. It could, but, again, I would expect that people that were not experienced, would be more likely to I have such effects just because they weren't familiar with the physiological changes that they were feeling. It doesn't necessarily do that.
Q. Would one or two buttons cause any kind of effects?
A. That would be very unlikely.
Q. Would four buttons?
Q. Do you feel you could draw a line somewhere?
A. Well, I would say somewhere between four and six to produce any measurable physiological changes.
MS. ORTIZ: May I have a moment, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes.
MS. ORTIZ: Okay. I don't have any further questions of this witness at this time.
THE COURT: Cross examination?
MS. PARDEE: Yes. Thank you.
CROSS EXAMINATION BY MS. PARDEE
Q. I believe that you stated that you've seen about eighty to a hundred individuals. About how many times were you observing these people, were there were 20 in one group and 30 in another?
A. I'd say a dozen on different times.
Q. And were those all in the context of ceremonial type?
A. Yes -- not necessarily in formal -- not necessarily Native American Church, but I would say all of them were in ceremonial fashion in a broad sense of the term.
Q. Can you describe where they would be during this ceremonial-type usage?
A. Well, in one occasion it was in Oregon on the National Forest land in the mountains. It was a group of people that had gone to the campsite there for the purpose of taking peyote ceremonially. Another, it was in a person's house in an all-night ceremony of eating peyote.
Q. Have you ever seen people eat peyote on the side of a road or highway?
Q. Is setting fairly important to a person's effects of the peyote on them?
A. I think it's very important.
Q. Would any kind of stress play a factor in the effects of the peyote?
A. It might.
Q. If a person were in a situation that might be stressful, then, might their experiences be different from a person that's in a peaceful, calm setting?
A. Might be.
Q. Would it be likely to be a more stressful experience?
A. I think it would be more likely to be a more stressful experience, yes.
Q. Now, you described or said that most of the experience that you've had or most of the experience that you've seen, there has been a group of people together?
Q. In your experience and in the studies that have been done, has the importance of having another person available been discussed at all?
A. Well, I think that conditions the experience. I have also interviewed, I would say, 20 individuals who eat peyote by themselves and not in a ceremonial context.
Q. And has this been -- if you're saying not in a ceremonial context, then this is not involved in any sort of religious practice?
Q. When you interview these individuals, do you keep track of them and continue to interview them over a period of time?
A. If possible, yes. I mean, there was a period when I was doing that.
Q. Did you perform any long-term studies on any of these individuals?
A. No. Just interviews.
Q. Were the interviews over a long term?
A. Well, I'd say the longest was over a period of five years.
Q. And how often did you interview the individual over a period of five years?
A. Three times.
Q. Doctor, I noticed that you worked as a volunteer physician in Haight Ashbury during the sixties. Is that correct?
Q. As a volunteer physician in the Haight Ashbury Free Medical C1inic, did you have experience of seeing people that were on LSD or psilocybin?
A. Yes, often.
Q. Is, in fact, mescaline's effects on the human body similar to that of LSD or psilocybin?
A. It depends on how you define similar, because these are in two different pharmacological groups, so I think in the broad general sense, there are similarities, but there are significant differences, also.
Q. Does the body react essentially the same to LSD, psilocybin and mescaline?
A. Well, I would respond the same way. It depends on what You mean by the same. There is a way in looking at that in which You say, yes, there are broad similarities. But, yet, the pharmacology of these two groups are different.
Q. Do all three types of drugs bring on hallucinogenic effects?
A. There's only two types of drugs.
Q. Okay. The two types of drugs bring on -
A. They work by different mechanisms, and I don't think we understand how any of them produce hallucinogenic effects. We don't understand the mechanism in the brain that does that.
Q. Now, with any of these LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, is there -- is one of the effects or effects that you've observed that they can create paranoia?
Q. Have you ever observed paranoia to be an effect of the peyote usage?
A. I don't think I have. One difference between these two categories of drugs is in the onset of the effect. The psilocybin group -- LSD-psilocybin group produces a very rapid, dramatic onset of psychological changes. The mescaline group tends to bring on a much slower onset in which there is an initial period of physiological disturbance, rather than immediate psychological change. I think for that reason the LSD group is more dangerous from a psychological point of view because in bad set and settings, that very abrupt change in consciousness can lead people to become anxious and panic. I think that's less likely to happen with peyote and mescaline.
Q. But it is still possible?
A. It's still possible.
Q. And, again, that is determined at least somewhat by setting?
A. I think that's a major influence, and I'd say another major influence is dose.
Q. Now, you stated that the effects of the peyote on a person would not become obvious for approximately an hour. Is that the length of time it takes?
A. I would say somewhere between 25 or 30 minutes and an hour.
Q. So if a person is not familiar with what the effects of peyote would be on another person and were observing this other person that had taken the peyote, didn't see anything for the first 20 -- 25 minutes and assumed there was nothing wrong or the person wasn't being affected by it, that doesn't necessarily mean the person isn't going to be affected by it in five minutes or forty minutes or more?
A. That doesn't necessarily mean that.
Q. Are there any physiological changes or effects that can occur at any dosage?
Q. So there's nothing like any increase in heartbeat or anything that occurs at any dosage?
A. No. I think there would have to be a -- as I said, there are doses under which none of those would I occur.
Q. Would you in any way know whether or not any variety -- any botanical variety of peyote is legal in the State of Arizona?
A. My understanding is that it is legal for Indians in official church ceremonies to use Lophophora williamsii.
Q. Do you know whether or not there is a breakdown in the statutes that one form of peyote is legal or illegal and the other form of peyote is not?
A. No. I'm unaware of that.
Q. What is your understanding?
A. I doubt that the statutes are aware that there is another botanical variety.
Q. Okay. Would you advocate the use of one variety or another -- one variety or another be made legal?
A. (No oral response)
Q. For anyone to use at any time?
A. I don't think that's my place to give an opinion on that.
Q. But one is not -- has so little effect on people it makes no difference?
A. Probably. I mean, I say probably because I really don't know of any data in which Lophophora diffusa has been given to people experimentally to see what would happen.
Q. Can you specifically predict the effect of an unknown quantity of peyote on a specific individual at any one time?
Q. Is anyone able to do that?
Q. Are hallucinations for a given individual exactly the same each -- for each specific dosage that is administered?
A. No. Although, I think people who use peyote frequently have similar kinds of visions. That is that they progress in a similar way from one case to the next.
Q. Now, is it true that people can become acclimated to peyote usage and need greater amounts over time?
A. I think that's possible.
Q. And does this acclimation effect go away if abstention from use of peyote for a period of time?
A. I don't think I know the answer to that.
Q. You've never done any studies?
Q. Or read any studies concerning that?
A. I don't know.
Q. Have you personally run any controlled tests on humans involving the peyote the way you did with marijuana?
Q. And why is that?
A. Well, I have lots of other interesting things to do and it's not one I got around to.
Q. Are there any ethical problems with doing a controlled study on humans using peyote?
A. I don't think so. I mean, I have a number problems with the way that research in this area is conducted For instance, it's commonly assumed that we learn about these drugs by giving them to animals, and I don't think that animal research has any relevance to research in this area because the parts of the human that respond to those drugs, animals don't have, so that's the basic problem with animal experimentation. If you want to make an animal react to a drug like mescaline or peyote, you have to give doses so high that the lower portion of the brains are being affected, and you're observing toxic dose effects, and these have nothing to do with the human situation, and one strong feeling I have about research in this area -- and this is consistently violated today -- an ethical concern is that people should not administer these drugs to other people without taking them first themselves to see what their effects are. That's an ethical precept I recommend, but I don't think it's possible to do human research in this area. It hasn't been done.
Q. So have you, yourself, taken peyote to see --
A. I have taken peyote.
Q. And was that in a religious context?
A. It was in a group context. I'm not a member of a peyote church or a religion that advocates the use of it.
Q. And how much peyote did you need to take?
A. Well, I don't know how much I needed. I ate six buttons on one occasion.
Q. And what was your reaction to the six buttons?
A. I had fairly intense nausea and stomach vomiting and minimal visions.
Q. And you have just done this on the one occasion, or
A. I have eaten peyote on three occasions.
Q. And were all three occasions as you have described?
A. Were they what?
Q. Were all three occasions as you have described on this first occasion?
A. No. I had -- on one occasion I drank it in the. form of a liquid extract and I did have -- that was in a ceremonial context, and I did in that setting have an experience of more like the ones I described of observing other people.
Q. On that occassion did you also have nausea?
Q. (continuing) -- before you had this experience?
A. (No oral response)
Q. And on the third occasion?
A. That was also -- that was eating, again, a concentrated water extract of peyote, and I had a period of nausea that lasted about an hour and a half, and then again a similar kind of experience that I described.
Q. In the tests that you had described with peyote on--or, in doing human tests with peyote, there's no ethical problem with giving Schedule 1 drugs to human beings?
A. I don't see any problem with that as long as people are informed of the nature of the drug and the researcher has tried it himself or herself to be sure of the effects. I think these are safe drugs if they're used in the appropriate context, much safer than many drugs we routinely administer to people for medical purposes.
Q. Who approves these types of studies?
A. There are various bodies that have to approve them. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and a human research ethics committee at the institute where the work is being performed, and also by the State narcotics authorities, as well.
Q. So an ethics committee does review it to see approved?
A. But in general, the bureaucratic opposition to any research of this kind dwarf any ethical concerns.
Q. I notice that you also studied indigenous medicine and wrote a paper concerning the use of psychoactive mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest. In that study did you also need to participate in the eating of psychoactive mushrooms?
A. I ate psychoactive mushrooms.
Q. And was that part of your study of the ethnic group that was using those?
A. Well, this was a -- the ethnic group involved were hippies in Oregon and Washington. That was a subculture. There is no ethnic group in the United States that uses psychoactive mushrooms. They are used in a religious context by Indians in Mexico, but there started to be a great use of these mushrooms by people in the hippy culture of the Northwest, and that was what I was talking about.
Q. You also wrote an article about nutmeg as a psychoactive drug. Did you test nutmeg on yourself?
A. I did.
Q. Did you find any effect in nutmeg?
A. Yes. It's considerably toxic, as well, but it does have definite psychoactive effects.
Q. When you are taking these various drugs, do you have research permission from any kind of authorities to do so?
A. I don't know who issues authority to take nutmeg, and I did not apply for permission to do that.
Q. How about for the psychoactive mushrooms?
A. Well, mushrooms, themselves, at the time I was doing that, there were really no laws that pertained to that. The laws were regulating the chemical psilocybin, but there are no laws specifically pertaining to mushrooms.
Q. And the peyote, you said you were doing it within a religious context?
A. I joined others who believed in the use of peyote for religious effects.
Q. But you, yourself, did not believe in those?
A. No. As I said, I'm not a member of any group that believes in the use of peyote for that reason.
Q. Have you ever tried much smaller amounts of peyote to see if they would have an effect on you, yourself?
A. I have. I think once I ate two dried buttons and had no effects from that.
Q. So part of your statement about having no effect at smaller amounts is based on your own experience?
A. Certainly, and also on numerous statements and the literature on peyote.
Q. And those would be based upon interviews with other individuals?
A. And also, I think, observations of the amounts that are used in natural settings by people, and on calculations of the effective doses of mescaline that's likely to be found in peyote.
Q. Now, you said that a person might be very -- or, certain people might be more sensitive to the peyote. Is that correct?
Q. And the reaction on them would be greater than on a normal -- or, on another person who is less sensitive?
Q. It is possible within the realm of scientific possibility for a person to be sensitive enough that a very small amount would have an effect on them?
A. Yes. Depending on what you mean by very small.
Q. An amount less than two buttons?
A. There is no -- in all of the literature on peyote, which is considerable, there are no reports of doses in that range producing any subjective or objective effects.
Q. But is it possible?
A. I assume it's possible.
Q. The scientific research doesn't include every person that's ever used peyote. Does it?
Q. And it doesn't include every person that's ever used it in very small amounts?
Q. Are you aware of how most people secure peyote for ceremonial purposes?
A. I have not checked into this recently. At the time that I was interested in the subject, which was 10 years ago, they were -- peyote was obtainable by mail order from shippers in Texas. There were also people who collected it in Texas or in Mexico and drove it up. There are lines of supply to supply the Native American Church.
Q. Are you aware if those suppliers would--which of the peyote buttons these suppliers would be securing?
MS. PARDEE: I have no --
BY MS. PARDEE:
Q. Do you know if the suppliers had to have any kind of permits at that time?
A. At the time that I was originally checking into it, no, they didn't, except I think there was a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit for shipping plants across state lines. But other than that, I don't know.
Q. In the Native American Church that you observed and the ones that Dr. Shultes studied, was the basis of the belief in the peyote concerning a Christian belief?
A. I would say that depends on the particular church. When the peyote movement first came into the United States, it was not specifically Christian. It became blended with Christianity to different degrees in different regions of the country. So it really depends on the particular area. In some areas of the country, the Native American Church is very Christian.
Q. Do you know which areas are more Christian, or --
A. Well, I think among -- I think probably less so here in the Southwest than in the Central Plains.
Q. So Central Plains would be more Christian-oriented?
MS. PARDEE: I have no further questions.
THE COURT: Redirect?
MS. ORTIZ: Yes.
REDIRECT EXAMINATION BY MS. ORTIZ
Q. Dr. Weil, you stated -- on cross examination you stated that one of the factors that would play into the subjective effects would be the setting. You said that was very important. Are there other factors that are equally important such as expectations of the individual, the familiarity with the use of the peyote?
A. I think there are three factors that are main determinants of the experience--The first is the dose of the drug taken and what drug taken. Second, the expectation of the person, and the third, the setting, and I think that those three are equally important and I don't I think any one of them is the main determinant.
Q. But you would identify those three as important factors; the expectation, the dose, and the setting?
A. And the setting, and one of the problems with classical pharmacology is that it often just looks at the drug and the dose, and does not pay any attention to set and setting, and pharmacological effects of drugs can be completely changed by putting the same dose of them in difference settings in people with different expectations.
Q. You were also asked on cross examination whether you could predict the specific effect of peyote on the individual, and I believe you answered no, that you could not predict that. Could you predict that for any drug?
A. No. I could, given -- if I knew enough about the person's history and what they were like and how they were going to use it, I could make a good guess. I think I could estimate a probability of what kind of reaction they might be likely to have.
Q. For peyote?
A. I think if I knew enough about the person and the way that they used peyote in the past, and so forth.
Q. For alcohol?
A. For alcohol?
Q. Can you predict how alcohol is -- a specific dosage of alcohol is going to effect a specific individual?
A. No. Again, only if I knew enough about the person and their past uses of alcohol and the way they were going to use it, I could make a guess.
Q. You were also asked about a safe drug, and you answered that you felt that peyote was much safer than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe?
A. First of all, let me qualify that. The question was about the ethical considerations of giving these drugs to people in terms of physical toxicity, is there potential for harm to the body. Peyote, mescaline, and related drugs are among the safest drugs that we know in medicine. That is, people don't die from them. There is no evidence that they produce any chronic harm to the physical body, even when they're used in high dosage over lifetimes. There are few drugs we use in medicine you can say that about, and we routinely study drugs in people that are much, much more physically toxic than peyote and mescaline. The psychological concerns are a separate issue. I'm talking about physical toxicity there.
Q. Are you aware of any drugs used by the medical community that we identify as having medical benefits that were subsequently found to be so harmful that the harm outweighed any medical benefit?
A. Well, I could spend a long time giving you a list of those. I think a dramatic one is heroin which for several years after its introduction was promoted by the medical profession as a safe cough suppressant that had no addictive properties.
Q. You said you could give us many examples?
A. Many examples.
Q. Can you tell us -- as a physician, can you tell us how particular drugs such as heroin come to be placed on the market for use -- for medical use?
A. I think when a new drug is invented, and especially one that has effects on consciousness, it often looks very attractive to physicians and pharmaceutical companies as a way of making people feel better, and so there is a long history of use of substances in this century particularly, widespread use to make people feel better before doctors appreciate the dangers of giving them to patients regularly.
Q. Are those drugs -- are they usually tested on human beings before they're placed on the market?
A. They're usually tested. Nowadays they're tested first on animals, and then on human beings.
Q. Are some of those drugs that were tested on human beings and then placed on the market -- have any of those drugs been identified as being more harmful than helpful in a medical sense?
A. Yes. I think that's true for cocaine, for amphetamines, for many of the synthetic opiates, and I would say today some of the common psychoactive drugs that are in use which in my mind are dangerous are the tranquilizer drugs like Librium and Valium which are very widely used in medicine today.
Q. And you would feel as a physician that those drugs have no medical benefit?
A. I think they have some medical benefit in short-term use, but commonly people are prescribed them for long periods of time, and there is a great risk of addiction, when they're used that way.
Q. Doctor, this may be a difficult question, but if you had -- if you were in a position to have onset standards for use of peyote and alcohol, which would it be easier for you to do as a professional?
A. That's a very difficult question. I think if we ignore cultural values, alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than peyote. It's pharmacological nature makes it much more likely to cause violence, accidents, death, disability, and that's because of -- it's a different type of drug that affects the brain in a different way. Peyote and mescaline have very little potential to do any of those things, but that's isolated from our cultural value. Alcohol is a drug that we have lived with for thousands of years. We have many traditions for consuming it and using it, and peyote is not part of our culture. It's associated -- it comes from traditional Indian cultures in Mexico. It was introduced to this society only a little more than a hundred years ago, and we don't have the same kind of cultural support for it's use. So that makes it difficult to answer that question.
MS. ORTIZ: Thank you. I don't have any other questions.
RECROSS EXAMINATION BY MS. PARDEE
Q. Okay. Basically what we know of peyote and mescaline has been controlled studies. Isn't that correct?
A. (No oral response]
Q. And studies of people using it in religious services?
A. And subjective reports of people starting in the late eighteen hundreds who took doses of peyote themselves and carefully described their experiences. That's a major source of information, as well.
Q. In religious services?
A. No. These were psychiatrists and medical doctors and pharmacologists who took the drug themselves to see what it did.
Q. And then they wrote their own perceptions of what happened?
Q. We don't have any studies, do we, of peyote use in situations of people out on the highway, people in crowded shopping malls, people in different types of stressful situations?
Q. So when we're talking about which might be more dangerous, we really don't have all the facts on peyote as to how it might be dangerous or not dangerous in different other types of situations other than laboratory situations or ceremonial religion. Do we?
A. In making comparisons with alcohol, it is possible to make that estimation based on the pharmacological difference. Alcohol is a depressant drug that selectively effects higher brain function so that it removes inhibitions, affects coordination, intelligence and so forth. We know from the pharmacology of mescaline and peyote that it does not do those things, so I think it's possible to make those estimations, even though we don't have controlled studies in the situations you described.
Q. And we wouldn't be able to make the same assumption with amphetamines because amphetamines also speed up the body's reaction that you say peyote does?
A. They are also stimulants.
Q. But there would be no way to compare those two. Would there?
Q. Amphetamines and peyote?
A. There are certainly features they share in common, but amphetamines don't have the hallucinogenic effects as peyote, and amphetamines are much more toxic drugs and also have a tendency for addiction, which peyote does not have.
Q. So basically, though, there is no real study on peyote in stressful situations that one could rely on and say, yes, this is a dangerous situation or this is not a dangerous situation?
A. I don't know of such a study.
Q. And setting up standards comparing peyote and alcohol are basically your own opinions?
A. Uh-huh (Nods head).
Q. And comparing the dangers of peyote to other drugs, that would also basically be your own opinions?
A. Well, everything I've given you today is my own opinion based on my research and my studies.
MS. PARDEE: No further questions.
MS. ORTIZ: No further questions.
THE COURT: You may step down. You're excused. You may go about your business. We'll take our morning recess at this time. We'll be in recess for 15 minutes. (Whereupon, a recess was taken.)
I, LERRYN HORTON ROBERDS, having been first duly sworn and appointed as Official Court Reporter herein, do hereby certify that the foregoing pages numbered 2 to 43, inclusive, constitute a full, true, and accurate transcript of the proceedings had in the above-entitled matter, all done to the best of my skill and ability.
DATED this 15th day of November 1996.
Lerryn Horton Roberds
Official Court Reporter
Rev. Trujillo was found innocent and his Holy Sacrament was returned.