Is Ayahuasca Legal?

Ayahuasca is legal in the United States of America. Ayahuasca was approved for religious use in the Supreme Court in 2006. Caapi vine and chacruna leaves are legal. It is the DMT component in question.

Iowaska Church of Healing has applied for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and is working with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as state authorities to ensure compliance with all laws affecting sacramental use of Ayahuasca.

The United States Supreme Court has expressly recognized the sacramental use of Ayahuasca in religious ceremonies. In its 2006 decision styled Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente uniao do Vegetal (UDV), the Supreme Court addressed the use of Ayahuasca during religious ceremonies and held that the government had impermissibly burdened the church members’ exercise of their religion when it confiscated an Ayahuasca shipment being delivered to the church. The members of UDV received the sacrament of Ayahuasca in the form of tea containing Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The government argued that because DMT is a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, its religious use was under that statute. The government conceded that the sacramental use of Ayahuasca by the UDV church members was a sincere exercise of religion but argued that the Controlled Substances Act provided no exception for its usage.

In successfully arguing for a religious exemption from the Controlled Substances Act, the UDV church relied upon the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), set forth at 42 U.S.C. § § 2000bb et seq. Under the RFRA, the government may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the government can demonstrate that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest. Under the RFRA, a person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of the statute is authorized to seek judicial relief from the government’s actions. In ruling in favor of the UDV church and its sacramental use of Ayahuasca, the Supreme Court noted that the government’s actions in disrupting the church’s use of Ayahuasca was a “substantial burden” upon its members’ exercise of their religious beliefs, and that the government failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that its actions furthered a compelling interest, or that they did so using the lease restrictive means.

The First Amendment guarantees our right to practice our faith. At Iowaska Church of Healing we believe Ayahuasca to be our sacred sacrament pivotal to our spiritual faith.