(*)By Matthew Meyer, specially to Alto das Estrelas

Many people writing on the internet now assume that the UDV legal case
has been resolved in the church´s favor since the Supreme Court of the
United States upheld, in 2006, the preliminary injunction issued by the
New Mexico District Court in 2002. The US Federal government is not
giving up so easily, however. The case has returned to the District
Court, and while the Feds are not making further arguments about the
harms of ayahuasca or the international treaties they say require that
its religious use be banned, they continue to find ways to keep the case
in court. (With the injunction still in place, however, the UDV is
currently able to bring ayahuasca-or hoasca, as they call it-into the
country and to use it in their worship.)

The government now argues that the UDV´s suit, and the Supreme Court´s
decision, merely prevent the government from enacting a “total ban” on
the UDV use of ayahuasca. That does not mean that the UDV does not have
to comply with the hundreds of regulations that govern the importation
and handling of controlled substances, they say. The government also now
argues that the District Court is not the proper place to determine what
should happen in the case from here on out. Instead, they say, the UDV
is now an “authorized importer” of a controlled substance, and so has to
request permission from the DEA for any exemptions from the many
regulations that the government thinks should apply. (These regulations
include keeping precise track of the quantities of controlled substances
imported, distributed, and consumed through the “importer”-the church.)
If these requests should be denied, the government argues-and one
imagines that they would be-the government claims the UDV´s only legal
recourse would be a special administrative court associated with the DEA.

If it were successful, this move by the government would surely end the
UDV´s quest to practice its religion in the United States, since it
would effect a transfer of authority to decide the question to the DEA´s
“home field,” as it were. There, the DEA seems to play by its own rules,
as when it refused to accept the 1988 recommendation of its own
administrative law judge Francis L. Young that cannabis be moved from
Schedule I to Schedule II in recognition of its therapeutic uses.

Court filings thus far do not give any indication when the District
Court judge will respond to the government´s arguments.

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