Florida’s ayahuasca church wants to go legal

In the letter, the US Drug Enforcement Agency asked Young and his cohort to apply for exemption status, which would allow them to provide ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic Amazonian tea, legally. It would also make Soul Quest the first homegrown psychedelic healing center in the US, permanently altering the way the government views the intersection of drugs and faith.

Founding a church of psychedelics was never something Young saw himself doing. In his previous life, he was an EMT, where he tells me he observed pharmaceutical companies manipulating doctors to prescribe powerful drugs like oxycontin, one of the lethal forces behind the country’s opioid epidemic. Young says he visited many crime scenes, and helped many overdose victims. Eventually he was burnt out, and he and his wife went to Germany for about a year. After the break, he wanted to get back into medicine, but not the Western kind … Young explained that he was initially encouraged by the Oklevueha Native American Church (ONAC) to seek affiliation with them. But when he discovered they couldn’t legally protect him, he decided that establishing a new faith would be more beneficial. And it’s not just religious freedom he is seeking. According to the petition Soul Quest filed with the DEA the week before I visited … a core part of the church’s mission is to provide members access to the ‘cognitive freedom’ these ayahuasca experiences provide, and to protect the congregants’ freedom of self-determination (i.e., the right to control their own mental processes), including psychedelic-induced spiritual visions. If members join the church to access and exercise those freedoms, then the DEA must provide just cause that governmental interference is necessary. If Soul Quest receives the government go-ahead, it would set a new precedent in the tolerance of psychedelics, not just ayahuasca. Furthermore, it could open the door for other psychedelics churches to go mainstream: Their proliferation could usher in the largest spiritual revival in our country since The Great Awakening … Psychologist Neal Goldsmith, a founder of the Horizons psychedelics conference in NYC, and one of the leading advocates for legalization, tells me large-scale religious reintroduction of psychedelics could also shift the trajectory of our cultural values. His vision goes beyond exemption status … “Over time the emerging divinity schools will train students to use active chemicals for scientific human development and maturation, as well as end-of-life care,” he said in an interview. “Substances are providing a clearer view on reality.”

Original Article (Motherboard Vice):
Florida’s ayahuasca church wants to go legal
Artwork Fair Use: k_donovan11

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