September 16, 2010

Native church sues over peyote

American Indian church sues feds over peyote use

By Jennifer DobnerAn American Indian church is suing state and federal police and prosecutors over the right of its members to use peyote in religious ceremonies, even if they aren't of Indian ancestry.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Utah's U.S. District Court on behalf of the Oklevueha Native American Church. It contends that federal laws that protect peyote use by American Indians should apply to anyone who belongs to the church.
And:A plant with hallucinogenic properties, peyote is considered a sacred medicine by Indians. Court papers say it has been used by indigenous populations for thousands of years. Although considered a controlled substance, federal law allows for the use of peyote by Indians for religious reasons.

The Oklevueha church is a federally recognized American Indian church with roots in the Native American Church founded in 1918. Court documents say the faith has practicing members on many reservations and across 29 states, Canada, Mexico and Peru.
Comment:  I don't see a legal or moral basis for excluding non-Indians from using peyote if they belong to the church. Our "war on drugs" is wasteful enough without cracking down on people with a legitimate use for them.

For more on Native religions, see Religious Freedom for Everyone, Except Indians and "Native Religion" for Indians Only?

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