Peyote (Lophophora williamsii), a type of hallucinogenic cactus also known as mescal button (family Cactaceae). Only limestone soils in the Chihuahuan Desert in southern Texas and northern Mexico contain peyote.
The body of the peyote cactus is soft, spineless, and, in most cases, blue-green to gray-green in color. It measures an average of eight centimeters (three inches) in width and five centimeters (two inches) in height. It can take a plant 1030 years to develop and blossom because to its extremely slow growth. It blooms in the summer with pink to white flowers, and the fruit matures the following year.
Can you purchase peyote cactus in the US?
Salvador Johnson, a payote vendor, is holding two peyote buttons. On his property, he owns an additional 80,000 or so.
South Texas is regarded as “brush country” ecologically.
There are numerous prickly trees, shrubs, and palms there. Its humid environment makes it akin to some regions of Northern Mexico, and these two locations are the only ones where you can find peyotegenus Lophophorais, a little cactus that is unique to the Rio Grande Valley and has generated some controversy. Native American civilizations have been using it as a religious sacrament in ceremonies for ages. It includes the hallucinogenic chemical mescaline. However, selling it is prohibited in all states other than Texas, where it is grown.
In order to sell peyote in Texas, one must first register with the Texas Department of Public Safety and then the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Every year, they must renew their license and disclose the quantity of wild peyote they have harvested. Salvador Johnson is one of Texas’s four authorized peyote distributors at the moment.
“I’ll turn 72 in a little over three weeks. Johnson claims, “But I’m still harvesting peyote, so I’m still going strong, and I still feel youthful.
Johnson resides in Mirando City, a small village east of Laredo that has less than 200 residents. He has spent the majority of his life there. In 1966, the year Johnson received his high school diploma, he enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to Vietnam. He replicated his father’s actions when he returned home.
“My father had returned to Mirando and was still alive. For almost 18 years, he was a peyote dealer. I returned here and applied for my license before starting to sell peyote. Since then, I’ve been doing it, Johnson claims.
Distributors like Salvador Johnson are only permitted to distribute peyote to Native American Church members who have registered as members of their organization. Church members need to show proof of ancestry in order to purchase it.
You must be at least one-fourth [American] Indian to purchase peyote in the state of Texas or possess peyote in the state of Texas, according to Johnson. “The most important document for a person to have is what we call the Certificate of Indian Blood, because that will show you who you are, who your parents are, and your blood quarter.
People who fit these criteria travel to the Valley from all across the country to purchase peyote, or “medicine” as church members refer to it. One of them is James Flaming Eagle Mooney.
“I see it as a picture of God, symbolically speaking. According to Mooney, it is essentially a truth ceremony that reveals your identity and holiness.
Johnson has known Mooney for ten years.
She was formerly in charge of the Native American Church’s Oklevueha branch.
“I think there’s no other way for a certain group of people to approach God; this is the only method, in my opinion. Without this peyote, this religion could never survive, according to Mooney.
A tiny, spherical cactus, peyote. Although it lacks thorns, it has peculiar qualities that make it a particularly robust species. The root can gradually sprout a new button if you cut the so-called “button,” which is utilized in rituals. Even so, wild peyote use is declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature said that over the last 20 years, there has been at least a 30% reduction.
Martin Terry, a professor of botany at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, claims that we are excessively exploiting the wild peyote that still exists on a portion of the world that is rapidly declining.
Terry has spent thirty years researching peyote. He claims that because Texas forbids the production of peyote, overharvesting occurs.
“What is the rationale for this? Why can’t it be grown? You should definitely ask that question of any Texas lawmakers you come across in the near future, Terry advises.
Since the Spanish arrived on these shores, peyote users have been persecuted, and the Drug Enforcement Administration still does so now, according to Terry.
Members of the Native American Church like Mooney claim that these laws have been utilized to oppress their people.
People must realize that the law had to deal with peyote in the sense that it was a sacrament that the indigenous peoples of North and South America had constantly practiced since before the advent of written history, according to Mooney.
Peyote is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance, the same as heroin or LSD. Distributors, consumers, and scientists like Terry, however, contend that it poses no significant health risks to people.
“People that use peyote ceremonially, say once a month or so, which is roughly how the ceremonies are spaced out, are completely safe as long as they utilize it correctly and in accordance with traditional methods. Despite this, Terry claims that governments still list it under Schedule I substances since there isn’t any proof that it has any negative consequences.
Peyote grows and is used in the Mexican state of San Luis Potos, where Johnson, the peyote distributor, has family ties. Selling it is something of a family tradition for him because he took over the company from his father and wants it to last after him.
“Either one of my daughters, my son, or my grandsons will most likely take over the company I have. But according to Johnson, it must come from the bottom of your heart.
Can peyote be grown in the US?
The First Nations culture has long used the spineless cactus known as peyote (Lophophora williamsii) in rituals. Unless you are a member of the Native American Church, it is forbidden to grow or consume the plant in the United States. U.S. authorities believe the herb to be deadly, but First Nations people use it as a ceremony and a means of achieving both spiritual and personal enlightenment.
Although cultivating peyote is prohibited unless you are a NAC member, it is a fascinating plant with qualities that are worth understanding about. However, you can produce peyote plant clones at home that will sate your desire to grow this adorable little cactus without breaking the law.
Where is peyote found naturally?
A naturally occurring hallucinogenic with a long tradition of spiritual and medical use is peyote. It is a button-shaped cactus with a diameter of up to 25 inches that is indigenous to southwest America and Mexico. More than 50 psychotropic alkaloids can be found in the peyote cactus, with mescaline serving as the main psychedelic producer.
Usually, the herb is dried and consumed. The plant’s age, as well as the place and time of harvest, have a significant impact on potency. A typical dosage is 612 dried plant buttons (2030 g).
Although the primary benefits take between 60 and 120 minutes to start manifesting, the person begins to notice changes after 30 to 60 minutes. The primary effects may persist for an additional 35 hours before progressively fading over an additional 12 hours. Afterward, residual effects can last for several hours.
Intense physical, visual, and perceptual changes are brought about by mescaline. Users report experiencing exhilaration, insights, heightened tactile sensations, brighter colors, and both open- and closed-eye visions. Negative side effects, which frequently worsen with increasing doses, can include dizziness, disorientation, sweating, chills, nausea, and difficulty focusing and speaking.
Possession of a peyote cactus is legal.
The mescaline-producing peyote plant has been overharvested in Mexico and the United States. Getty Images/Sinisa Kukic
Peyote is a hallucinogenic cactus that has been utilized for generations by Native Americans and Mexican Indians in the Southwest for certain religious ceremonies and rituals. Peyote also gained a new audience in the 1960s psychedelic era among counterculture hippies seeking a natural lifestyle.
Peyote is currently making headlines once more, in part because the drug was decriminalized in Oakland, California (together with magic mushrooms) in June 2019. Denver, Colorado was the first city to do so. According to supporters, the cacti’s new legal status will allow law enforcement to focus on more important cases and might even permit more research into the mind-altering effects of peyote, which could aid those who are experiencing mental and emotional distress or who are alcohol or drug dependent. But let’s first learn more about the plant before we examine its medical potential.
What Is Peyote?
Only the top of the peyote (Lophophora williamsii), which is called the “button” and is the size of a baseball, is visible. In the deserts of south Texas and northern Mexico, peyote is a slow-growing, spineless plant that can take years to mature.
The cacti create a variety of phenethylamine alkaloids as they develop, some of which have a pronounced hallucinogenic impact on people. After being picked, the tiny button-shaped fruits can be consumed, made into a tea, or dried, crushed, and placed into capsules. The dry version can also be smoked by users. Mescaline, a potent stimulant classified by the United States as a Schedule I substance, is the main active component and is (mainly) prohibited to possess or use. (Interestingly, the mescaline gives animals a bad reaction that keeps them from eating it, protecting the spineless cactus.)
Native Americans venerate the plant in regions of North and Central America as a way to enhance their spiritual rituals. Native Americans could assemble around a fire and share peyote while a shaman or other ceremonial leader leads the group in chanting and singing while guiding them through the experience, which could continue for up to 10 hours. Every year, the Huichol or Wixritari people of Mexico embark on peyote pilgrimages into the desert, stopping periodically to ingest more of the drug, which they believe opens conduits to their gods.
Peyote has a long history in these societies as medicine in addition to being used in religious rites. The cacti are occasionally used by people to treat pain, diabetes, blindness, blindness-related issues, and fever. None of the peyote-related medical claims are accepted by the US government.
Peyote is generally prohibited to possess and consume in the United States due to anti-drug legislation, thus if you are found in possession of this cactus you might be subject to fines or jail time. The Native American Church is given an exception by the federal government, enabling its members to utilize the plant for religious purposes.
The Controlled Substance Act was approved by Congress in 1970 and made it illegal to consume peyote, while the Native American Church was excluded. By requesting that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) “exclude the use of all psychedelic substances in religious ceremonies of all religions that believe that psychedelic drugs are deities,” Alan Birnbaum, the creator of his own Native American Church of New York, challenged the status quo in 1976. He sued the DEA after they declined. He won support from the Supreme Court.
There are different peyote laws in other countries. For instance, it is permitted in Canada, but only when used for religious, not recreational, purposes. Peyote cultivation is permitted in the UK, but not its preparation for consumption. Because peyote is endangered, it is forbidden to eat it or collect the wild variety in Mexico. The only exemption is for religious purposes.
Effects of Peyote
To change your perspective and thoughts, peyote interacts with the chemical serotonin in your brain. It is challenging to administer the drug with any degree of accuracy because strength varies from plant to plant, but an average dose is between 10 and 20 grams of dried peyote (three to six buttons).
People who consume peyote cacti or drink its tea describe it as having an intensely bitter taste that makes them queasy and causes them to vomit, occasionally violently. As the medication takes effect, users may experience brighter colors, louder noises, or a loss of location or time. They might feel happy, detached, have illusions, or see things differently. Whether they experience a “good trip” or a “poor trip” depends on what the users are expecting and the environment (is it happening in a church, a club, or a doctor’s office?). A terrible trip could result in mood swings, paranoia, or fear. Dry lips, headaches, an elevated heart rate, and diminished motor abilities are among additional adverse effects that may occur.
Peyote isn’t really considered to be a physiologically addictive substance outside of those effects. Similar to magic mushrooms, users only sometimes consume the drug, frequently as part of a quest for spirituality. But much like with any mind-altering drugs, some mental health professionals worry that peyote users may develop psychological dependence.
Although most native cultures forbid recreational usage, many interested individuals actively seek out peyote, sometimes only for the novelty of the drug’s experience or occasionally as part of their own personal spiritual quest.
Peyote is not easily accessible. You could certainly stomp through the scorching desert terrain in pursuit of the few surviving flora in south Texas. Alternatively, you may join a “spirit walk” organized by the Peyote Way Church of God, which is hidden away in the Arizona desert. Church leaders will get you ready for your experience if you donate $400. It starts with a 24-hour fast and ends with peyote tea.
On July 17, 2013, a visitor consumes peyote in the desert close to the town of Real de 14 in San Luis Potosi State, Mexico.
Going to Mexico could be more successful for you. Every year, tourists from all over the world come to the Mexican town of Real de Catorce, which is the ancestral home of several Huichol people. Many come just to discover and use the peyote that grows in the nearby scrubland. Tourists pay guides to drive them into the desert, where they spend hours searching for peyote buttons, which they may consume immediately.
Tourist overharvesting, according to the locals, is endangering the availability of peyote and, consequently, the Huichol religious traditions, which depend so heavily on the sacred plant, even though tourists may enjoy fantastic psychedelic experiences. It can take the plant a decade or longer to recover and start producing fruit once it has been harvested.
Peyote is likely to continue to be mostly used for religious rituals and spiritual inquiry because of how scarce it is in comparison to other psychedelics and because it is illegal, providing a bitter but perhaps euphoric route to some higher power.
Only a small number of people, known as peyoteros, are legally permitted to gather peyote cacti in Texas and sell them to the Native American Church, which controls much of the Southwest. In an effort to obtain enough of the highly desired cactus to support themselves, the peyoteros lease land in the narrow 1,250 square mile (3,484 square kilometer) area of Texas where the cacti are found.