Newsbrief: Feds to Prosecute Ayahuasca Case 10/25/02

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Salvia Divinorum isn't the only Latin American psychedelic catching the attention of the feds these days. In an opinion issued in Atlanta on Wednesday, a federal magistrate cleared the way for a federal prosecution of Alan Thomas Shoemaker on charges of smuggling almost a thousand pounds of Amazonian ayahuasca vines and huambisa leaves into the US in early 2000.

When combined, the two plants make a potent hallucinogenic tea, confusingly also commonly referred to as ayahuasca, which is used in religious rituals by tens of thousands of followers of the syncretic Brazilian religions Santo Daime and the Union of the Vegetable. In fact, it is not the vine but the huambisa leaves that contain the substance that got the feds' eye: DMT. Under federal law, DMT is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Attorneys for Shoemaker had filed a motion arguing that because the Controlled Substances Act did not name both DMT and the plants that contain it (as with THC and marijuana or heroin and opium poppies), the plants were not controlled substances. But US Magistrate Alan Baverman declined to dismiss the indictment against Shoemaker, finding that Congress intended the ban to include "any material" that contains DMT. "When Congress speaks clearly, the court must follow what Congress has stated," Baverman wrote in the opinion obtained by DRCNet.

Last month in New Mexico, ayahuasca users had better luck. In that case, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction barring the federal government from interfering in religious ceremonies involving ayahuasca, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Look for an in-depth article on the politics of ayahuasca in the Week Online next week.

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Issue #260, 10/25/02 Antiprohibitionists Meet at European Parliament in Brussels | Vigilante Drug Bust in Arizona Opens Window into World of Hurt on Mexican Border | Election 2002:00:00 Governor's Races of Interest | Smoke Dope to Fight Chemical Warfare Attacks? Israeli Activists Say Check It Out | This Week's Cop Corruption Story: Two Texas Villarreals | Newsbrief: Federal Court Upholds Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients | Newsbrief: Bill to Ban Salvia Divinorum Introduced | Newsbrief: In Ecuador, Plan Colombia Foe Appears Headed for Presidency | Newsbrief: Feds to Prosecute Ayahuasca Case | Newsbrief: Baltimore Killings Bring More of the Same Old Policies | Newsbrief: Richmond, Virginia Drug Sweep Underway | Newsbrief: Massachusetts Reform Advocates Release Decrim Study as Elections Near | Newsbrief: Oklahoma Uses Civil Suits in War on Meth | Newsbrief: U Missouri SSDP, NORML in Marijuana Petition Drive | Newsbrief: Ontario Court Authorizes Crackdown on Marijuana Growers | Quote of the Week: William Raspberry | Web Scan: DRCNet in the Media, Dan Forbes on Alternet, VoteHemp, Change the Climate, Journey for Justice, Sydney Morning Herald | Job Opportunity: PreventionWorks, Washington, DC | Errata: Polling on San Francisco Proposition S | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar
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