The Legal Status of Entheogens in Florida
Entheogens are plants or mushrooms used in traditional religious ceremonies to induce a trance state and spiritual visions. Many entheogenic species, and the psychoactive chemical compounds they contain, are categorized as controlled substances, so that the criminal penalties for possessing or distributing them are the same as if the substance had been cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine. There is a growing movement in the United States, though, to gain legal recognition for the medicinal benefits of entheogens. For example, the documentary From Shock to Awe shows combat veterans who have treated their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with ayahuasca. On the day of the 2020 presidential election, voters in some states participated in referendums about decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms; the idea that psychedelic mushrooms can cure drug addiction instead of causing it has enough support to make it onto the ballot. Despite growing public acceptance of entheogens, it is still illegal to possess and consume entheogens in most situations. If you are facing criminal charges for the possession of a psychedelic or entheogenic substance, contact an Orlando drug crimes defense lawyer.
Is Ayahuasca the New Cannabis?
Most people above the age of 30 were taught in school that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to more dangerous substances. While there are no documented cases of fatal cannabis overdose, if you smoke a joint, it is only a matter of time before you die from an overdose of heroin or some other scary drug. Meanwhile, millions of Americans used cannabis to manage anxiety, chronic pain, and other health conditions, and many of them suffered criminal penalties because of it. The first step toward cannabis legalization was the establishment of medical marijuana programs at the state level. Today, some states have legalized recreational cannabis; legally regulated cannabis industries are thriving in these states. In Florida, cannabis is still illegal at the state level, but many cities, including Orlando, have made it a summary offense (similar to a parking violation) instead of a criminal misdemeanor, to possess a small quantity of cannabis.
Florida does not recognize the medicinal use of entheogens, but federal law does recognize their sacramental use by religious groups that have traditionally performed religious ceremonies using them. The first of these religious groups to get legal recognition of its entheogen use, is the Native American Church, which is legally permitted to perform peyote ceremonies. Since then, plenty of organizations have sprung up, some of them falsely using the name of the Native American Church to mislead participants into thinking that they are safe from legal consequences for using peyote or other entheogens.
Here in Orlando, Soul Quest applied earlier this year for legal permission to administer ayahuasca for sacramental use. It is the same organization featured in From Shock to Awe. Soul Quest hopes to make it legal for more people to consume ayahuasca for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
You need an Orlando drug crime lawyer if you are facing criminal charges for possession of entheogens. Contact the Baez Law Firm for help with your case.