There are many different substances in the world which, when taken by a human, can have mind-altering effects. Some of these substance are common drugs like cocaine, alcohol, and LSD. There are also uncommon substances from plants, fungi, and even animals which can produce the same effects as the more common street drugs.
In the past, different cultures found and used these substances for medical, recreational, and even religious purposes. Many of these cultures were familiar with the specific effects of these substances, and they found a number of different uses for them. One of these such substances is peyote, which contains the psychedelic substance mescaline. Peyote is found in cacti in the southwest U.S. and northern Mexico. Although classified as a Schedule II drug by the USA, peyote has been used by Native American tribes for religious purposes during ceremonies. Peyote is seen as a spiritual drug, so recreational use is not widespread or very common. Native Americans have the right to use peyote in religious ceremonies and this right has been protected by the US Federal government since 1965, with another 28 states enacting similar laws to work in conjunction with the federal laws. These laws allows peyote to be used by Native American religious practitioners, but the laws lack true uniformity. This has created some barriers to transportation and use of peyote in different areas by different Native American tribes.
Previous USA court rulings found that the First Amendment does not completely protect Native American practitioners who use peyote. This is another barrier to its supposed protection under federal laws. Peyote can be consumed in a number of different ways. It’s often cut into disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried before being chewed or soaked in water to produce the liquid containing mescaline. The dosage of mescaline is about one third to one half of a gram and its effects may last up to 12 hours. Another method of preparing the drug is to prepare it as a tea to counter its bitter taste.
Peyote has been used in North America for hundreds of years by Native Americans. However, its long term effects on the body are poorly understood because very little research has been done on this drug as compared to other drugs. Although no long term psychological or cognitive harm has been observed in Native Americans who use peyote, this does not indicate the same will hold true for those who abuse the drug repeatedly for recreational purposes. Side effects of peyote are very similar to the effects of taking LSD. Some of the effects of taking peyote include increased body temperature, heart rate, uncoordinated movements, sweating, and skin flushing. It’s difficult to pinpoint the rate of use of peyote, however there are millions of people in the USA and in the world who take advantage of hallucinogens. If peyote becomes more widely available as a popular drug of choice, we may see a decrease in laws which protect its use in a spiritual context.