In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, which specifically prohibited the use of peyote. Although the Native American Church was automatically issued an exemption, the possession of peyote became subject to federal regulation. The trade of medicine became commercialized and heavily monitored.
The Federal Exemption (21 cfr 1307.31 (1993))
The listing of peyote as a controlled substance in Schedule 1 does not apply to the non-drug use of peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church, and members of the Native American Church so using peyote are exempt from registration. Any person who manufactures peyote for or distributes to the Native American Church, however, is required to obtain registration annually and to comply with all other requirements of the law.
Although peyote is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the act and under Schedule 1 of the federal act, a separate federal regulation (21 cfr 1307.31 (April 1, 1989)) exempts the non drug use of peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church. In light of Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872, 108 L. Ed.2d 876, 110 S.Ct 1595 (1990), states should consider including in Schedule 1 an exemption similar to that found in 21 cfr 1307.31 (Uniform Controlled Substances Act (1990) (U.L.A.) sec, 204 “comment”.)
Peyote’s religious exemptions do not insure freedom from prosecution as the burden of proof still rests with the defendant. Evidence of a spiritual practice is often called for in a court of law. Even in Arizona, where the exemption has been upheld and is well known, we are still subject to persecution due to the over-handed and unconstitutional scrutiny applied by the War on Drugs.
Possession and Sale of Peyote
In a prosecution for violation of this section, it is a defense that the peyote is being used or is intended for use:
1. In connection with the bona fide practice of a religious belief, and
2. As an integral part of a religious exercise, and
3. In a manner not dangerous to public health, safety or morals.
- State by State comparison of peyote statutes Adapted from The Entheogen Law Reporter, compiled and edited by Richard Glen Boire, Esq.
- If the state does not appear below, there were no explicit legislative exemptions found concerning peyote.
|With a bonafide religious organization||Within a NAC ceremony||NAC membership required||Native American descent required||On reservation only||Incarcerated persons not exempt|