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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

How to Legalize Drugs

Fish, Jefferson. M. (editor) (1998).
Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

ISBN: 0-7656-0151-0 hardcover

Description: xxiv + 675 pages.

Contents: Preface, acknowledgements, contributors, 24 chapters divided into 2 parts: Part 1: Understanding the Problem, Part 2: Approaches to Legalization, credits, index.

Contributors: Luis Barrios, Joel H. Brown, Ted Galen Carpenter, Michael C. Clatts, Mary M. Cleveland, Richard Curtis, Steven B. Duke, Richard M. Evans, Jefferson M. Fish, Robert S. Gable, Toni M. Gallo, Kelvin Alexander Gray, Lester Grinspoon, Albert C.Gross, Edward A. Harris, Douglas N. Husak, Lee M. Kochems, Harry G. Levine, Pellegrino A. Luciano, Bart Majoor, Jerry Mandel, Ethan A. Nadelmann, Stanley Neustadter, James Ostrowski, Craig Reinarman, Rodney Skager, Jo L. Sotheran, Eric E. Sterling, Robert W. Sweet, Mark Thornton, Richard E. Vatz, Lee S. Weinberg.

Excerpt(s): In our own country, peyote (which contains the entheogenic alkaloid mescaline) is the sacrament of the Native American Church. The use of peyote by members of the church has been protected under Federal law since 1965 where federal jurisdiction applied, but until 1994 almost half the states did not protect Indian religious use of peyote. There has been no evidence of a "peyote abuse" problem, but Indians and non-Indians are prosecuted for their posses-sion of peyote. With the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994, Native Americans are no longer subject to crimi-nal prosecution and religious persecution by various states for possession or use of peyote for "bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion." Spiritual peyote use is no more "drug" use than sacramental wine consumed at communion is drug use, and thus religious peyote use must be protected. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all people are free to be religious seekers. Peyote use by non-Indians is not a social or public health problem. All Americans should be free to use peyote in a religious manner, without regard to their race or parentage. (Eric E. Sterling, Principles and Proposals for Managing the Drug Problem, pages 495-496)

8. Legalize the use of drugs in established religious and cultural practices.

One of the wonders of America is its ability to tolerate, accept, learn from, and assimilate huge numbers of immigrants from all over the planet. While ethnic hatred and genocide continue elsewhere, we have managed to cope with unprecedented diversity (if not always with good humor) by simply recognizing that "different" doesn't necessarily mean "bad" or "dangerous." Thus, in our drug policy, we should recognize that well-established religious and cultural practices that differ from those of the mainstream must be legiti-mized in the area of substance use as in other areas. Three common examples are the use of marijuana by Rastafarians from the British West Indies, the chewing of coca leaves and drinking of coca tea by Bolivians, Peruvians, and other immigrants from South America's Alteplano, and the religious use of peyote by members of the Native American Church. Criminalizing these nor-mal, and even sacred, practices among culturally different groups is a recipe for ethnic strife. (Jefferson M. Fish, First Steps Toward Legalization, page 542)

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