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Ayahuasca
Legal Status
by Erowid
U.S. FEDERAL LAW #
Caution :   All legal information should be verified through other sources. [see below]
U.S. FEDERAL LEGAL SUMMARY
Ayahuasca
REGULATED
No
STATUS
Ambiguous
SCHEDULE
May Contain
Schedule I Chemical
CLASSIFICATION
Hallucinogen
The most common plant constituents of Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi & Psychotria viridis) are not specifically scheduled in the United States. Neither is the ayahuasca brew specifically named as a scheduled substance. However, P. Viridis contains DMT which is DEA schedule 1. The DEA has recently been making the argument that a plant or brew is illegal if it contains DMT or any other controlled substance.

Major court decisions in the United States in 2006 and 2009 have left the religious use of ayahuasca more or less legal for the protected groups, the UDV and Santo Daime (see UDV Wins Supreme Court Case and Santo Daime Wins Court Decision). It is likely that the Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to fight to get those rulings overridden. As of March 18, 2009, it is still presumptively illegal in the United States to use ayahuasca unless one is a member of the two churches that have successfully sued the U.S. government.

INTERNATIONAL LAW #
Brazil #
In Brazil, a protracted legal battle in the 1980's ended with the Brazilian government finding ayahuasca churches use of ayahuasca was was safe and showed no signs of harming the members. In 1992, Brazil formally legalized the constituent plants and ayahuasca tea.(see the Brazilian Ayahuasca legal notes)
Canada #
Harmaline is Schedule III in Canada. Since ayahuasca brews almost always contain a harmaline-containing plant, it is possible that ayahuasca could be considered illegal on these grounds.
France #
As of May 3, 2005, France added Banisteriopsis caapi, Peganum harmala, Psychotria viridis, Diplopterys cabrerana, Mimosa hostilis, Banisteriopsis rusbyana, harmine, harmaline, tetrahydroharmine (THH), haroml, and harmalol to the list of controlled substances. See France Control Ayahuasca Plants and Chemicals. Earlier, in Jan 2005, a Paris court of appeals determined that Ayahuasca is not considered a preparation of DMT and is therefore not a controlled substance.
Netherlands #
Ayahuasca is practically legal to possess and buy. In Amsterdam and across the country, ayahuasca is sold in smart shops. It is also used by some churches in the Netherlands, whose use has been protected by decisions in the country's highest court. (unconfirmed) (last updated Nov 6 2011)

  • October 1999: Santo Daime Church service raided and 2 leaders arrested.
  • March 2001: Trial of Ayahuasca Church leaders ends in March
  • May 15 2001: Dutch Court Hears Arguments on Cannabis Use by Sainto Daime
  • May 21 2001: Dutch Court Decides in Favor of Head of Ayahuasca Church
  • Germany #
    Summer 1999: Santo Daime Church raided (no source)
    Spain #
    According to the Spanish Scientist Josep Maria Fericgla, in 2012, Ayahuasca is not controlled under Spanish law. See http://josepmfericgla.org/2012/informe-pericial-sobre-el-estatus-legal-de-la-ayahuasca. This is not an official government statement of policy, just one person's analysis of the complex issues of having a natural extract that contains a controlled substance. In April 2000: Santo Daime Church members arrested, Daime (ayahuasca tea) seized. Six Spanish and two Brazilian members were arrested. The members were eventually released in May of 2000. (thanks m) (last updated May 16 2012)
    U.K. #
    Ayahuasca, as it contains DMT, a class A drug, has been established as prosecutable, according to an August 8th 2011 ruling (case number T20100950) at Bristol Crown Court. More at: more at Bialabate.net (thanks Bia)(Last updated Sep 6 2011)
    U.N. #
    If you have information about the legal status of this substance in any other country, please let us know.

    CAUTION & DISCLAIMER #
    Erowid legal information is a summary of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, websites, and other resources. We are not lawyers and can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided here. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but laws are complex and constantly changing. Laws may also vary from one jurisdiction to another (county, state, country, etc)...this list is not comprehensive.