Bia Labate and Kevin Feeney

Peyote, a psychoactive cactus considered sacred by many Native Americans, has recently been caught up in a political movement to decriminalize various psychedelic plants and fungi, primarily through grassroots efforts at the municipal and state levels in the United States. At the epicenter of this movement is “Decriminalize Nature,” an organization whose mission is to “improve human health and well-being by decriminalizing and expanding access to entheogenic plants and fungi through political and community organizing, education, and advocacy.” The emergence of groups like Decriminalize Nature over the past several years is undoubtedly linked to increasing scientific data supporting the use of certain psychedelic substances in the treatment of mental health conditions, as well as a general growth in interest in these plants and their uses for healing and spiritual growth. When these general developments are paired with the realities of a draconian drug war that seeks to punish and control, rather than support and assist individuals and communities in need, steps to decriminalize these substances and de-escalate the War on Drugs appear quite rational and important. The history and present sociocultural context of the peyote cactus within the United States, however, sets it apart from other, similar substances… continue reading.

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