Why does the Plant Medicine Healing Alliance (PMHA) want to decriminalize plant medicines for ceremonial healing when Measures 109 and 110 created a psilocybin therapy program and decriminalized all psychoactive substances for personal use, respectively, including fungi and plant medicines?
109 enables the development of a regulated and licensed therapeutic program that will be available for adults that may benefit, and equity and access will be built into the core of that program. However, licensed therapeutic approaches are not the only way that people and groups heal. We believe it is crucial that people have the right to grow their own psilocybin mushrooms at home, so they can also access the healing power of that medicine in healing community circles and otherwise.
Measure 110 decriminalized small amounts of all drugs for personal use, including plant medicines, but not in quantities sufficient for ceremony and group healing, or for home cultivation. For example, ayahuasca is an Amazonian brew composed of two medicinal plants with spiritual and healing potential when consumed in ceremonial contexts with the right intention, facilitation and integration. Scientific studies show benefits of Ayahuasca for people struggling with trauma and substance use problems which is important given the admirable and compassionate “treatment not jail” policy Oregon is taking to drug addiction.
Does PMHA propose limits or cutoffs for plant medicines?
No, because plant medicines are not addictive there is no reason to limit the quantity that is responsibly cultivated or procured for ceremonial purposes.
Why doesn’t PMHA want to decriminalize peyote in unlimited amounts for ceremony, when smaller personal amounts already are by measure 110 at the statewide level?
The National Council of Native American Churches has advised the psychedelic movement that they have a national conservation effort in progress that decriminalization efforts will not support and will interfere with. Peyote in the wild has been over-harvested and is in danger of collapse. Regeneration requires a careful well-coordinated indigenous-led multi-stakeholder effort to address. The NAC does not want a signal sent to non-native seekers that it’s OK to use peyote for healing in ceremony, which would spike demand for their slow growing medicine. Our effort will decriminalize plant medicines in unlimited amount explicitly and intentionally for ceremonial healing purposes; measure 110 by contrast decriminalized all drugs in small personal amounts without any special attention to healing with plant medicines. Peyote is the only such medicine able to be utilized by NAC members. There are other mescaline-containing cacti like San Pedro that are already legal and available for non-native seekers to heal with in ceremony, and our policy decriminalizes all other mescaline-containing cacti.
If peyote is endangered shouldn’t we support cultivation?
Cultivation of slow growing peyote is one of many long-term conservation strategies that the National Council of NACs and other stakeholders are already engaged on at a nationwide level under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act: it does NOT require any regulatory changes at the city or state level.
Does the National Council of the NAC seek to monopolize peyote supply from its demonstration land in Texas / are there other financial interests involved there?
No and no. The NAC’s Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative is a non-profit that has raised funds to purchase 605 acres in the peyote gardens of south Texas. This land serves as a teaching destination for proper harvesting and replanting of peyote. However, the vast majority of peyote is harvested from independently owned neighboring ranch lands, where IPCI is working to expand responsible harvesting and replanting. Additionally, IPCI and other Native American Church groups are working with individual NAC chapters and tribes on localized conservation efforts which include, where culturally appropriate, building out nurseries and cultivation. An example is the Comanche’s recently launched peyote cultivation project which will provide for the Comanche Native American Church. Similar projects with many other tribes and NAC chapters will manifest in the years ahead.
Why are you not decriminalizing 5 MEO DMT extract from the Sonoran desert toad?
The Sonoran desert toad is endangered and is not a sustainable source for this medicine. 5 MEO DMT is available in synthetic form, and under our policy can also be derived from other plant sources.
What other medicines are problematic from a sourcing and sustainability perspective? How can I know if a given medicine is sustainable?
Iboga is being over-harvested in Gabon in central Africa by poachers, and generally seekers should look for synthetic ibogaine unless they specifically know the medicine is from a sustainable source. Ayahuasca vines are being over-harvested in many parts of the Amazon, and similarly seekers should make sure the source of medicine is sustainable. A consumer guide to sustainable medicine choices will be developed by the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund and made available this summer (2021).
How do we decriminalize plant medicines in a good way, in solidarity, respect and reciprocity with indigenous traditions? How can I reciprocate to the indigenous wisdom traditions from which these healing medicines come from?
In the first place by listening, heeding and supporting with respect, the indigenous-led Peyote cultivation effort on this continent, and not decriminalizing Peyote for healing ceremonies or cultivation by non-natives at their request. This would inevitably send a signal that its OK for non-natives to use peyote that can only be supplied from endangered wild sources for the next ten years given the time it takes to mature. It’s also disrespectful to assume that they don’t know what they are doing in their efforts to conserve their medicine, and instead propose that governmental committees be formed to lead this effort, especially given the long history of broken treaties and promises by US governmental bodies. It’s incumbent on all of us to be respectful allies and follow their lead. The Cactus Conservation Institute has also clarified their position in this regard, which is disingenuous to ignore: https://cactusconservation.org/2021/04/05/important-words-of-clarification/
In the second, support other Indigenous-led efforts for biocultural conservation. Chacruna shares direct connection to Indigenous led groups through their Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative, while the Indigenous Conservation Medicine Fund provides direct support for biocultural conservation of keystone medicines to traditional knowledge holders: both are great resources for seekers to learn more in general, and to financially contribut
Where can I find more information about plant medicines and how to properly engage with ceremonial healing practices and communities?
Please see our resources page for a list of links.
Is the National Council of Native American Churches / IPCI coordinating on peyote conservation with tribes south of the border?
Yes. The NAC’s Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative serves indigenous Peyote people of Canada, the United States and Mexico, for generations to come. Collaboration and parallel projects exist between multiple tribes and organizations. Ongoing information exchange, prayer and support are also shared, from the Lakota to the Yaqui, that rely on the native peyote habitat.