SALT LAKE CITY – The American State of Utah has approved a new bill that will clarify and sharpen the rules around the use of peyote. The bill is supported by a unique coalition of representatives of different Indian tribes.
Peyote is illegal in the United States, but a federal law from 1994 approves the limited use of the cactus for traditional religious reasons. Out of practice came clear though, that this law was not suitable for one clear interpretation and therefore causing a lot of misfiring.
For example in 2000 the court cases against James and Linda Mooney, founders of the ‘Oklevueha EarthWalks’ Native American Church, were struck down simply because the couple claimed to have an Indian heritage. The charge, drug distribution for providing peyote to members of and visitors to their church, had to be rejected.
If the bill of Utah becomes a real law then this kind of claiming is no longer sufficient; you will need to proof that you have a ‘membership’ of a federally recognized tribe to legally consume the cactus.
Or, as Attorney General of Utah Mark Shurtleff put it at a press conference on Wednesday: ‘if you're a Native American of a federally recognized tribe in a bona fide church ritual and you want to use peyote, fine. If you're a white, wannabe-Indian who wants to deal drugs, you'll be prosecuted’.
Shurtleff: ‘This law will stop people from using religion as an excuse to abuse drugs’. The intention is to give policemen and prosecutors more powers to identify unauthorized peyote-users.
The support from Native American communities is present. For lots of them the bill is about much more than just the use of peyote. Clifford Duncan, religious leader of the Indian Ute-tribe, Wednesday ‘I’m saddened that people will trample on something so sacred to Native Americans. We need to stop our culture from being exploited.’
Sources: Ksl.com and
Other Peyote news:
Last week Jewish filmmaker Gary Rhine died in a plane crash in Lancaster. One of Rhines most remarkable films is called Peyote Road (1990). This film was meant as a charge against the American Supreme Court that did not recognize the protection, mentioned in the first Amendment, of the religious ceremonial use of peyote by American Natives.
Almost every documentary of Rhine is about Native Americans and there struggle to keep their own identity in modern American society.
Rhine was a flight instructor as well besides filmmaker. He was 54.
Source: LA Times