Members of the ayahuasca-using religious group known as the Uniao do Vegetal (UDV), won a major legal victory on Monday (August 12, 2002), when a federal court ruled that the group’s use of ayahuasca was likely protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Ayahuasca (also known as hoasca) is a visionary tea that serves as the sacrament of the UDV religion. In May 1999, US Customs agents seized several bottles of ayahuasca imported from Brazil for use by members of UDV’s US Branch headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
According to the US government, ayahuasca is an illegal controlled substance in the same class as LSD, because it contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) a “hallucinogenic” drug under the US Controlled Substance Act (CSA). In Brazil, ayahuasca is legal and is expressly recognized as the sacrament of several Brazilian-based churches, including the UDV. Continue reading