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Acquital of Daimistas - Ayahuasca Not Illegal in France
by Erowid
Jan 15, 2005
[Note that France subsequently passed a new law banning many ayahuasca-admixture plants as of May, 2005. See France Controls Ayahuasca.]

A Paris court of appeals ruled in favor of six members of the Santo Daime arrested for drug trafficking in 1999 and sentenced to several (suspended) months in jail on Jan 15, 2004. The Jan 2005 ruling has returned to the church members the ayahuasca confiscated as a result of the original charges.

The inquiry began when the mother of one church member complained to French authorities of "extortion" and claimed her son "was not in touch with reality". As a result, six people (five French and one Brazilian) were arrested and questioned about drug trafficking and organized crime. After a long police investigation found nothing, the sole charge of "drug trafficking" was upheld. The court of appeals sided with the defense, who argued that because French authorities are currently debating the actual classification of ayahuasca, it could not have been classified as a controlled substance at the time of the arrests. Additional information about this case has been made available by Alan Shoemaker, who has faced similar charges in the United States:
Jan 13, 2005
by Doctorcito Forums

Today, at 13:30 (GMT +1) the Paris tenth court of appeal acquitted five French and one Brazilian daimistas, and ordered restitution of the seals (the seized tea). After no less than five years since the first wave of arrests, and true personal agony for some, these people are fully discharged. Only two of them were present today, but what a rejoicing!

We (partner and I) have been able to obtain what in French legal jargon is called the "motivation" of the verdict. It certainly will be of great interest for people implied in ongoing legal cases in Australia, Germany, and the USA, as it is, to my knowledge, the first legal case in the Western world where the decision was clearly and entirely based on the status of the tea:
  • Ayahuasca is not DMT and thus cannot be considered scheduled.

  • The sole toxicity of a "product" doesn't allow legal authority (Justice) to consider it scheduled.

  • The operation of decoction, infusion, or maceration doesn't permit to obtain a "substance" ["a pure substance"] and is not a "preparation" [in the technical, pharmacological, and... legal sense].

  • A preparation is a technical operation consisting in having [pure] substances previously at disposal before mixing them with other substances [italics in the original].

Please see my post on this topic from Dec 15, 2003: What's on trial?.

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