Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Drug Control in a Free Society.
Bakalar, James B., and Grinspoon, Lester. (1984).
Cambridge: Cambridge University
Description: First edition,
x + 174 pages.
Contents: Preface, acknowledgments,
5 chapters, bibliography, index.
Excerpt(s): The problem
of how a free society should deal with drug use and abuse remains
unresolved despite years of bitter dispute and a century of efforts
at government control. The modern world seems unable to form a
consensus or even a consistent attitude about the subject. We
propose to review the peculiar medical, legal, and social status
of drugs by examining the formal and informal controls used in
modern industrial societies and comparing them with other methods
that have been or might be used. From a historical and sociological
view, the question is how ambiguous phenomena of drug use have
been classified for social purposes; from a moral and practical
point of view, the question is how to balance the requirements
of health, safety, and social order against the need for individual
freedom and diversity of experience when we regulate drugs. (Preface,
Members of the Native American Church, an Indian
group, are allowed to take peyote in their religious rituals .
Here federal courts have found a fundamental right of the individual
that overrides a state interest in suppressing nonmedical drug
use; the guarantee of religious freedom in the First Amendment
to the Constitution. In other words, the drug use has to be more
than a pleasurable taste or pursuit before the law
will allow it. To refute the presumption that nonmedical drug
use is negligent, ignorant, and generally worthless, there must
be overwhelming evidence that the drug users know what they are
doing, consider it important in their lives, and believe seriously
in its intrinsic value. But even that is not enough. The courts
have made it clear that they will not accept merely individual
religious beliefs (much less consciousness expansion) as a justification
for drug use, and they have said that they will scrutinize very
skeptically the claims of any new organized churches.
The drug must be not only religiously important to its user but
also an essential part of a traditional rite with a communal significance.
So far, the exception made for the Native American Church is unique.
It is as though mountain climbing were regarded as generally so
dangerous and useless that climbers would be fined and jailed
unless they could prove they were making a pilgrimage to a holy
site on the peak certified by an established church. (pages 31-32)
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP