Legal status of ayahuasca by country

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is an overview of the legality of ayahuasca by country. DMT, one of the active ingredients in ayahuasca, is classified as a Schedule I drug under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, meaning that international trade in DMT is supposed to be closely monitored; use of DMT is supposed to be restricted to scientific research and medical use. Natural materials containing DMT, including ayahuasca, are not regulated under the 1971 Psychotropic Convention.[1] The majority of the world's nations classify DMT as a scheduled drug; however, few countries seem to have laws specifically addressing the possession or use of ayahuasca.

Country Possession Sale Transport Cultivation Notes


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal The Australian Poisons Standard, February 2022,[2] lists N,N-DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE (an active ingredient in ayahuasca) as a Schedule 9 substance, making it illegal to sell, import, produce. and possess.


Legal Legal Legal Legal Ayahuasca has been fully legal in Brazil since 1992.[3] Many private companies and non-profits offer ayahuasca retreats.


Illegal, unless for religious use Illegal, unless for religious use Illegal, unless for religious use Illegal, unless for religious use In June 2017 the Santo Daime Church Céu do Montréal received religious exemption to use ayahuasca as a sacrament in their rituals.[4] As of September 2020, a total of six religious organizations have received exemptions to use ayahuasca for religious and spiritual rituals.[5] Medical studies[6] and anecdotal evidence suggest DMT, particularly in the form of ayahuasca, used under proper conditions, may prove helpful for those struggling with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma.


Controlled Controlled Controlled Controlled There is contradictory evidence regarding the legality of ayahuasca in Chile. Though no specific laws exist to prohibit ayahuasca, DMT is a controlled substance.

 Costa Rica

Legal Legal Legal Legal Superficial research[original research?] suggests that ayahuasca is fully legal in Costa Rica and there are many private companies and non-profits offering ayahuasca retreats. As of March 2022, Costa Rica's Ministry of Health issued a press release asking the population and commerce in general not to expose themselves and remain vigilant about activities related to ayahuasca and, in case of having knowledge of these practices, make the corresponding complaint in any of their Governing Areas of Health.[7]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal Ayahuasca contains the drug DMT, which is on the list of illegal drugs in Denmark, making it illegal to import, produce, and consume. The Santo Daime brought a case forward, claiming their right to consume ayahuasca for religious ceremonies, but the Supreme Court of Denmark rejected the case.[8]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal In France, Santo Daime won a court case allowing them to use the decoction in early 2005; however, they were not allowed an exception for religious purposes, but rather for the simple reason that they did not perform chemical extractions to end up with pure DMT and harmala and the plants used were not scheduled. Four months after the court victory, the common ingredients of ayahuasca as well as harmala were declared stupéfiants, or narcotic scheduled substances, making the Daime and its ingredients illegal to use or possess.


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal In Germany, the active substances of Ayahuasca, DMT and 5-MeO-DMT, are listed in Annex I of the German Narcotics Law Betäubungsmittelgesetz. Handling the substances without a permit is punishable by law.


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal An attempt in 2014 by a member of the Santo Daime church to gain a religious exemption to import the drug failed.[9]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal Ayahuasca was declared illegal in 2022.[10]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Legal Although plants are not prohibited by law, the dry plant material or any other preparation that contains significant amount of controlled drug (DMT) is considered illegal.[11]


Legal Legal Legal Legal Ayahuasca is fully legal in Mexico, and there are many private companies and nonprofits offering ayahuasca retreats.[citation needed] Despite not being illegal, since March 2022, the Mexican navy has arrested eight people for introducing ayahuasca by air through Mexico City international airport.[12] In July 2022, during a daily press conference, the Secretary of National Defense announced that 161 kilos of ayahuasca had been seized.[13]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal Ayahuasca is officially illegal in the Netherlands, as of an October 2019 decision by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.[14] Before this, ayahuasca could be purchased in certain stores in the country, many online sellers of the substance were based in the Netherlands, and it was even possible to book an ayahuasca experience there, but things changed rapidly since the ruling by the Supreme Court. Santo Daime initially won a court case in 2001[15] which allowed them to continue their ceremonial usage of ayahuasca,[16] but that ruling was also overturned.[14] One factor in this initial decision was a fax from the Secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board[17] to the Netherlands Ministry of Public Health, stating that [P]reparations (e.g. decoctions) made of these plants, including ayahuasca are not under international control and, therefore, not subject to any of the articles of the 1971 Convention.


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal It is illegal to prepare plants that contain narcotic drugs.[18]


Legal Legal Legal Legal Superficial research suggests that ayahuasca is fully legal in Peru and there are many private companies and non-profits offering ayahuasca retreats. Powdered forms of ayahuasca are openly sold in markets, especially in parts of the country within the Amazon basin, such as the city of Iquitos.


Decriminalized Illegal Illegal Illegal In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all previously illegal drugs. This means that though not legal, the possession and use of ayahuasca, just like its active component DMT, is no longer a criminal offense and doesn't carry a jail sentence. The sale, transport, and cultivation of the substance remain criminal offenses, however.[19]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal Legal for scientific and medical research studies by authorized doctors in clinics and hospitals only.[citation needed]


Controlled Illegal Controlled Controlled Sale to the public is prohibited due to its toxicity. Use and marketing is restricted to the manufacture of pharmaceutical specialities, master formulas, officinal preparations, homeopathic strains and research.[20]


Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal It is illegal to prepare plants that contain narcotic drugs.[21]

 United Kingdom

Illegal Illegal Illegal Illegal DMT is a Class A Drug and is therefore illegal to distribute or possess.[22] As a DMT containing plant, ayahuasca is therefore illegal in the UK.[23]

 United States

Illegal, unless for religious use Illegal, unless for religious use Illegal, unless for religious use Illegal, unless for religious use Ayahuasca typically contains DMT, a Schedule I substance, making ayahuasca illegal under federal law. People have been federally prosecuted for ayahuasca possession as recently as 2018.[24] State law also typically outlaws DMT. However, federal courts have granted specific religious groups the right to use ayahuasca for ritual purposes.

In Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, the Supreme Court heard arguments on 1 November 2005, and unanimously ruled in February 2006 that the U.S. federal government must allow the Brazil-based União do Vegetal (UDV) church to import and consume ayahuasca for religious ceremonies under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In September 2008, the three Santo Daime churches filed suit in federal court to gain legal status to import DMT-containing ayahuasca tea. The case, Church of the Holy Light of the Queen v. Mukasey,[25] presided over by Judge Owen M. Panner, was ruled in favor of the Santo Daime church. As of 21 March 2009, a federal judge says members of the church in Ashland can import, distribute and brew ayahuasca. U.S. District Judge Owen Panner issued a permanent injunction barring the government from prohibiting or penalizing the sacramental use of "Daime tea". Panner's order said activities of The Church of the Holy Light of the Queen are legal and protected under freedom of religion. His order prohibits the federal government from interfering with and prosecuting church members who follow a list of regulations set out in his order.[26]

Except for ornamental purposes, growing, selling, or possessing Banisteriopsis spp. is prohibited by the Louisiana State Act 159.

In June 2019, the city of Oakland, California, in January 2020, the city of Santa Cruz, California, and in September 2020, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, decriminalized all "entheogenic" plants, including all natural materials used to produce ayahuasca.[27][28][29][30] In November 2020, more than 76 percent of voters in Washington D.C. voted in favor of the initiative to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi.[31] In October 2021, Seattle's city council voted unanimously to decriminalize the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and non-peyote-derived mescaline.[32][33] In November 2021, the city of Detroit made "the personal possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants by adults the city's lowest law-enforcement priority."[34]


  1. ^ Schaepe, Herbert (2001). "International control of the preparation "ayahuasca"" (JPG). Erowid. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Poisons Standard February 2022". Australian Government Federal Register of Legislation. 25 January 2022. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Legal Status of Ayahuasca in Brazil". March 2001. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  4. ^ Rochester, Jessica (17 July 2017). "How Our Santo Daime Church Received Religious Exemption to Use Ayahuasca in Canada". Chacruna. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  5. ^ Browne, Rachel (17 September 2020). "Legal Ayahuasca Churches Are Spreading Across Canada". Vice. Retrieved 24 December 2023.
  6. ^ N/A, N/A. "MAPS" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Atención a la comunidad en general y comercio sobre alerta por consumo de ayahuasca" (PDF). ICEERS. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  8. ^ Smith, Patrick (10 October 2019). "Ayahuasca Legal Status by Country". Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Sect leader spared jail for importing hallucinogenic drug for religious 'sacrament'". 4 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Ministero Della Salute" [Ministry of Health]. (in Italian). 23 February 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  11. ^ "Par Krimināllikuma spēkā stāšanās un piemērošanas kārtību" (in Latvian). Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Ayahuasca, el alucinógeno que la Marina incautó por primera vez en el AICM". Forbes. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Por primera vez incautan 161 kilos de ayahuasca". Aristegui Noticias. 28 July 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  14. ^ a b van de Lustgraaf, Rick (1 October 2019). "Verbod ayahuasca definitief na oordeel Hoge Raad". Trouw (in Dutch).
  15. ^ Court Case in Holland against the use of ayahuasca by the Dutch Santo Daime Church. By Arno Adelaars
  16. ^ Dutch Santo Daime Case 2001 – Abridged Judgment
  17. ^ Letter of Herbert Schaepe Secretary of the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board
  18. ^ "Drug laws in Norway".
  19. ^ "Portugal legalizes drug use". BBC News. 7 July 2000. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Order SCO/190/2004 establishing the list of plants whose sale to the public is prohibited or restricted because of their toxicity". BOE (in Spanish). 6 February 2004. pp. 5061–5065. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Drug laws in Sweden" (in Swedish). 8 March 1968.
  22. ^ "DMT | FRANK". Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  23. ^ Thelwell, Emma (29 April 2014). "Why do people take ayahuasca?". Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  24. ^ Breaking News: The first two ayahuasca convictions in the United States
  25. ^ "Church of the Holy Light of the Queen v. Mukasey" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  26. ^ Church of the Holy Light of the Queen v. Mukasey (D. Ore. 2009) ("permanently enjoins Defendants from prohibiting or penalizing the sacramental use of Daime tea by Plaintiffs during Plaintiffs' religious ceremonies"), Text.
  27. ^ Haridy, Rich (5 June 2019). "Oakland City Council decriminalizes all "natural psychedelics" in landmark resolution". Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  28. ^ McCarthy, Kelly (29 January 2020). "Santa Cruz decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms". ABC News. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  29. ^ Kaur, Harmeet (30 January 2020). "Santa Cruz decriminalizes magic mushrooms and other natural psychedelics, making it the third US city to take such a step". CNN. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  30. ^ Stanton, Ryan (22 September 2020). "Ann Arbor OKs move to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, plants". mlive. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  31. ^ Kreps, Daniel (4 November 2020). "Oregon Decriminalizes All Drugs, While D.C. Decriminalizes Psychedelics". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  32. ^ Kary, Tiffany (4 October 2021). "Seattle Votes to Decriminalize Psilocybin and Similar Substances". Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  33. ^ Adlin, Ben (4 October 2021). "Seattle Becomes Largest U.S. City To Decriminalize Psychedelics". Marijuana Moment. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  34. ^ Kai-Hwa Wang, Frances (3 November 2021). "Detroit just decriminalized psychedelics and 'magic mushrooms'. Here's what that means". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 3 November 2021.

Further reading[edit]

Labate, Bia; Cavnar, Clancy (2023). Religious Freedom and the Global Regulation of Ayahuasca. ISBN 978-0367028756

External links[edit]