Peyote or mescaline is a hallucinogen derived from a cactus. A group of Native Americans use this regularly as part of their religious ceremonies (Jenkins, p1). Peyote was described in 1560 but it was only in the middle of 19th century that botanists were able to make a study and correctly classify the cactus. Their study included the two distinct populations of peyote.
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Native Americans use this peyote in their religious practice because of its psychoactive properties and the native Americans use peyote by eating it as mescal buttons, it is the dried, brown piece above the part of the said cactus.
The American Plain Indians were the people who peyote ceremony was introduced to originally. It consists of formal, all night prayer meeting help in a teepee, hogan or peyote house selected for the peyote ritual (Majchrzak, p1).
The regular use of peyote among the Navajo tribe was found to score significantly better on mental health measures compared to those subjects that were not members of the said tribe who did not use the said hallucinogen in a study done as published in Biological Psychiatry.
“We found no evidence that these Native Americans had residual neurocognitive problems,” says first author John Halpern, MD, of McLean Hospital’s Biological Psychiatry Laboratory. “Despite lifelong participation in the peyote church, they performed just as well on mental tests as those who had never used peyote.”
This was the statement of the researchers who did the study. But the question still remains, should the Native Americans be allowed to use peyote legally?
Yes. They have been allowed to use it legally since 1976 and so they should still be allowed to use the said plant for religion ritual purposes and nothing else. If this has been their way of praying since thousands of years ago and nothing happens, why should the government ban peyote use to these people. These people have not been abusing it, they are using it for religion purposes and so they should be allowed to use it.
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Native Americans just use peyote to pray. In an article it was written that peyote is used to bring in positivity and that they do what’s best for those people who attends their prayer meeting. The article also stated that the peyote ceremony helps bring balance in life and achieve spirituality (Waters, 2003).
If this is their belief, as long as they don’t bring harm to the people as supported by the study mentioned above, there is no way that we can prevent these people to use peyote. As long as they are not doing it for addiction’s sake, or doing it just for fun, then there’s nothing wrong to allow these people in using peyote.
Some states may not allow the use of peyote totally, but as a an American, they also have the freedom to practice the rituals of their religion, if peyote use would be banned it would just be like getting their right to religion. Studies had already been done among these people and there was no negative effects seen on these people. They were even mentally well compared to those who have not used the peyote.
Native Americans should be allowed to use peyote legally but with restrictions of course. They should be allowed only, if and only if they would use it in line with their religious practices and not for abuse of the said hallucinogen.
Majchrzak, Jennifer. Peyote and Native American Culture. leda.lycaeum.org. 2008. Web.
Jenkins, Rita. Religious Use of Peyote No Problem for Native Americans. 2005. Daily News Central. Web.
Waters, Ann. Native Americans use peyote in ancient prayer ceremonies. 2003. Sierra Vista Herald. Web.