Is It Illegal to Own Peyote Cactus? – (Don’t fall into the Trap)

How to Consume Peyote?

Today, ‘ Lophophora williamsii ‘ is illegal to grow and possess under the Controlled Substances Act 1970. Peyote is a Schedule I drug, which the government calls one of the most dangerous plants known to society.

Today, ‘ Lophophora williamsii ‘ is illegal to grow and possess under the Controlled Substances Act 1970. In 1993, the Church received permission from the US government to legally harvest and use peyote. Unfortunately, the naturally growing peyote that the NAC uses is becoming an endangered species.

Lophophora williamsii (peyote)

Reino: Plants

Division: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Subclass: Caryophyllidae

Orden: CaryophyIlales

Familia: Cactaceae

Genus: Lophophora

Species: williamsii

It is a small globular cactus, round and less than 12 centimeters in diameter with a glaucous bluish-green color. It lacks thorns and instead of these, it has white or slightly yellowish woolly extensions similar to cotton. 

Its flowers can be pale pink or white and sprout from the center. Peyote is native to boreal America and lives between 1,000 and 2,200 meters above sea level, in the arid areas of the Altiplano that covers most of the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosí. .

Who Can Consume Peyote Legally? 

Its possession is illegal in Mexico except for the Huichol, Cora, and Tarahumara groups; in addition to the use in rituals of the Native American church in the United States. 

 When Did the Peyote Ban Start? 

It is an edict that has a religious character. Before the arrival of Europeans, peyote was used like many other plants to heal and relieve pain and add resistance, it is not recent, it is thousands of years old. 

But it has to do with the lack of dialogue and understanding between both civilizations that has other solutions, in addition to the prohibition of peyote and other things such as polytheistic religions. 

  How Do Native Peoples Consume Peyote? 

This plant, in general, is used by peoples such as the Wixárikas (Huichol), the Coras, and Rarámuris (Tarahumara) to have resistance in long days and walks. 

The consumption of peyote, a psychedelic plant with the scientific name Lophophora williamsii , is done in controlled spaces by people living in arid regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

The peyote cactus is consumed for both spiritual and medicinal purposes by a variety of people. The plant grows in high-altitude areas including mountains, hills and deserts.

It is also consumed during group ceremonies which can last up to several days. During these ceremonies, they are accompanied by the music of flutes and drums.

They believe that peyote contains spirits who are responsible for their well-being, with whom they can communicate during the consumption of this plant.

Usually, there is someone who serves as a guide through the ceremony. Peyote also brings togetherness to its users. There are no couples or families; everybody participates on an equal level in this ceremony which represents rebirth, healing, and knowledge about oneself and others.

What Is Peyote or Mescalito Cactus?

Lophophora williamsii commonly known as peyote, Mescalito or Hikuri is one of the best known cacti on the planet, due to its medicinal and hallucinogenic properties. 

Peyote is found in more desert regions of Mexico such as the state of Nayarit, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo León or San Luis Potosí.

This famous Mexican plant is characterized by its small and bulbous stem, its extremely thin skin and the almost total absence of thorns or hairs. For this reason, they usually grow under thorny bushes, which protect them from the most cunning predators.

As the philosopher’s stone of countless indigenous communities and Mesoamerican cultures, Lophophora williamsii is one of Central America’s best-known sacred plants.

The Characteristics of Peyote or Lophosphora Williamsii

  • The peyote plant, also known as Lophophora Williamsii, is tiny and has a tuberculous appearance.
  • So much so that specimens rarely measure more than 5 cm tall; instead, specimens measuring 2 to 3 cm are more typical.
  • Although this kind of plant has a remarkable capacity for water absorption, because of its extremely thin skin, the body readily evaporates.
  • This explains why the peyote becomes highly wrinkled, drastically shrinks in size, and eventually buries itself in the ground during periods of dryness.
  • This plant has enormously huge roots that store an immense amount of water in order to prevent dehydration.
  • Therefore, the peyote’s visible portion is merely the tip of the iceberg.

What Does Peyote Contain? 

In fact, the peyote cactus has been used for over 10,000 years. Archaeologists have discovered sites where mescaline was made from peyote and have found traces of it in ceramic artifacts from 5000 to 7000 years ago. This indicates that it has been used for about that long, although obviously not always for religious purposes.

The plant contains more than 100 different alkaloids (such as mescaline), which are responsible for its hallucinogenic properties. The active ingredient, mescaline, is a natural psychedelic drug that causes intense visual hallucinations and geometric patterns. This plant contains more than 100 different alkaloids (such as mescaline) with the purpose of dissuasive so that insects do not attack them.

How to Consume Peyote?

Although there are many methods of consuming peyote, the traditional method is to prepare a bitter tea (The name “peyote” is thought to stem from either the Nahuatl word for “glistening” or “Divine Messenger,” both of which are not inaccurate associations to make with the peyote-eating experience). However, it is also common to eat the cactus raw by chewing on them or on their small offshoots (called pups).

The peyote cactus can have different effects depending on how it’s administered. It can produce psychedelic effects when chewed raw, but when boiled into a tea, its effects are primarily sedative and analgesic, which makes it useful for eliminating physical pain or psychological traumas that an individual has been carrying around for years.

When eaten raw, the plant causes euphoria, enhanced visual and auditory senses, sometimes distortion, and mild hallucinations.

The effective proportion of mescaline (the main active compound of the plant) is 0.3 to 0.5, and its effects last between 12 and 16 hours.

The Hallucinogenic Properties of Peyote

However, this plant’s ability to induce hallucinations is its most well-known effect. You might not be aware of the following peyote medical uses:

  • This plant is used as an analgesic to relieve joint and bone pain.
  • Native American societies employ this quality to alleviate the signs of melancholy, depression, and excessive exhaustion.
  • Lophophora wiliamsii is an antipyretic that helps to reduce the symptoms of fever and paralysis.
  • Antibiotic: It is used to treat bacterial infections in many Mesoamerican cultures.
  • Purification: The body’s purification is the primary goal of ceremonies utilizing this plant.
  • The patient is able to get rid of a lot of stored toxins that cause a variety of ailments through vomiting and excretion.
  • Nutritious: Many groups use the consumption of this plant to combat dehydration, fatigue, and hunger during long periods of hunting.

Ideal Soil and Exposure for Peyote

Peyote needs heat and does not survive below 10°C. It is grown in full sun in a special cactus substrate reinforced with a little limestone. Outdoors, the soil should be sandy, alkaline, not very fertile and well drained.

Date of Sowing and Planting Peyote

It is in the spring that you will sow the peyote in a sandy mixture, between 19 and 24°C.

Since in France you will be growing it indoors, it can be planted all year round with a preference for spring.

Council of Maintenance and Culture of Peyote

Water at least once a week from April to September then keep dry the rest of the year.

Diseases, Pests and Parasites of Peyote

Peyote is not susceptible to disease.

Location and Favorable Association of Peyote

It is a plant that is grown as a houseplant in our latitudes or, ideally, outdoors in summer and in a greenhouse or in a veranda in winter.

Recommended Varieties of Lophophora as a Houseplant

There are only 2 species of the Lophophora genus : Peyote ( Lophophora williamsii ), and L

Mescalito or Hikuri: the Sacred Plant

Long before the arrival of the Spaniards in Mesoamerica , peyote was revered as a sacred plant by many indigenous communities, such as Mexicans, Wixarika, and Mexican Huichol or Navajo, belonging to what is now the southern United States. However, the hikuri or jikuri (as the natives call the peyote) is the indisputable center of countless cultures in this region, due to its medicinal properties and hallucinogenic qualities.

With the arrival of the conquistadors in the New World, the texts written on the use and consumption of this plant were destroyed, since it was considered a pagan rite. However, in the 16th century, Friar Bernardino de Sahagún wrote for the first time in Spanish about the rituals surrounding this plant. He assured that the Chichimecs were the first natives to use it.

The jicuri or peyote embodies a supernatural entity known as Mescalito. In the ceremonies in which the plant is consumed, this entity is presented in many different ways and, in the words of the native shamans, “helps to see beyond apparent reality”. The mezcalito embodies both the protector of the plant and the plant itself, a common duality in Mexican shamanic cultures.


Is peyote legal in the US?

The peyote cactus, Lophophora williamsii, is native to Mexico and the southern United States. It contains a number of alkaloids, including mescaline, which can produce psychoactive effects when ingested. While not technically a hallucinogen, peyote can cause perceptual changes both in terms of how the user views their surroundings and their physical sensations.

Peyote has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years in religious ceremonies and to treat physical ailments. There remains an exception for members of the Native American Church to use peyote to this day as part of their rituals.

However, peyote is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled drug, and its use is illegal in the U.S.

Peyote contains mescaline, which is thought to have psychedelic properties similar to LSD or psilocybin, which are also scheduled substances. However, unlike LSD or psilocybin, peyote does not seem to be addictive, nor does it seem present any serious side effects due to its use if taken safely and under the supervision of a medical professional.

Is it legal to own peyote in California?

California law makes it illegal to possess peyote, which is defined as the “mescaline-bearing portion of the plant Lophophora williamsii Lemaire,” except when sold by a Native American who has obtained a valid license. It is a misdemeanor offense to possess peyote without the required Native American license, unless you are a member in good standing with a recognized tribe and have obtained a certificate from your tribal chief or council.

Section 11362.7 HS also makes it illegal to “plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, or process” peyote. However, it is legal to sell peyote if you have the appropriate license from your tribe.

Section 11362.7 HS makes it illegal to possess any part of Lophophora williamsii for the purpose of ingesting the peyote for hallucinogenic effects. This law does not apply if you have your required Native American license and certificate.


Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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