Mescaline is a hallucinogenic alkaloid that can be taken in its pure form; however, it is more commonly found as a naturally occurring substance within Peyote. Peyote is a kind of small cactus, and many cultures across North and South America have utilized this cactus’ psychoactive properties for centuries. The pure form of mescaline is often taken as a pill, while peyote is usually smoked. The effects of using peyote are usually felt within 2-3 hours, and they can last for over 12 hours.
With the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, peyote was classified as a Schedule I drug. This is a result of its lack of medicinal use, unpredictable hallucinogenic effect, and ability to create tolerance in the user.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act or 1978 came at a time when the United States was witnessing resurgence in Native American pride. The Native American Church was looking to reclaim its culture, which was one that included the use of peyote for spiritual events and vision quests. At the time, peyote was illegal in the US; however, Native Americans argued that one of their constitutional rights as Americans was the freedom to practice their religion which, again, involves peyote. The government ruled that Native Americans are allowed to use peyote as part of their ceremonies, but this is the only situation in which it is legal.
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Drug Fact Sheet – Peyote/Mescaline