2015 – Groups Begin to Widely Offer Ayahuasca Ceremonies in the United States Despite Illegality
Drinking ayahuasca in the USA is legally dangerous, unless participating in special Santo Daime or UDV churches that have legal permission from the government to use ayahuasca in a sacramental way. In parallel, USA is home to countless underground ayahuasca groups quietly running ceremonies beyond the duty of law enforcement.
In 2015, in the USA, some groups began to advertise openly on the internet and offer ceremonies to the public. They had been told by a Native American organization called the “Oklevueha Native American Church” that if they paid ONAC for the right to call themselves a “Native American Church,” the NAC’s legal exemption for peyote would extend to their own use of ayahuasca (as well as psilocybin, cannabis and other plants). Their assurance implied that anyone authorized by ONAC as a “medicine person” could legally offer ayahuasca ceremonies to the general public for money.
Soon, many groups stopped paying ONAC for the right to call themselves “Native American Church” and simply adopted that label. As the government of the USA kept ignoring all this, these groups have become increasingly open in offering ayahuasca to the public despite the legal risks for service providers and participants. The legal tolerance may change if ceremonies led by unqualified facilitators turn out not to be safe.
Highpine, G. (2015). The “Legality’ of Ayahuasca Churches Under the Oklevueha Native American Church. Bia Labate website.
Labate, Bia (2015).Let the Buyer Beware: Advertised ‘Ayahuasca Healing Retreats’ are not legal in the United States. Bia Labate website.
Laskow, Sarah. (2016). In 2016, the “first legal ayahuasca church” got shit down. AtlasObscura website.