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Legal Status of Ayahuasca in Brazil
by Erowid
Mar 2001
Brazil legalized the possession and use of ayahuasca tea in 1992 after having made the constituent plants illegal in 1985. In the 1980's, the UDV (Uniao do Vegetal) brought a legal challenge against the new law and the government sent CONFEN (the federal drug council) to investigate the situation and found ayahuasca-using church members were actually healthier and more productive in their communities than the average citizens. CONFEN eventually recommended that ayahuasca be removed from the controlled drugs lists and, in 1992 the Brazilian government formally exempted B. caapi, P. viridis, and the ayahuasca tea from the list of illicit drugs.

The following is a collection of summaries and brief histories of the legal status of the ayahuasca tea and its plant contituents (commonly Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) in Brazil:

Rex Beynon's Summary:
In June of 1992 a definitive decision was made by the CONFEN, putting the matter to rest once and for all, stating that the use of the Daime is perfectly legal. Domingo Bernardo Da Silva, the president of the CONFEN, had visited the community of Mapia, in the state of Amazonas, and taken part in the rituals as part of his study. During the Earth Summit in Rio in June there was a conference on medicinal plants of Amazonia, in which three of the members of the CONFEN, including Domingos Bernardo, took part in a panel and explained their study of the Daime and their conclusions. They had take part in the rituals and showed a great deal of respect for the religious and cultural intolerance and emphasized that there is no evidence of any harmful effects or potential for abuse of ayahuasca.
Nicholas Saunder's Santo Daime Page: (cached copy)
A further sign of the increasing official legitimisation of Santo Daime came with the Earth Summit Conference in Rio in June 1992. An inter-religious vigil was held with all of the major religions of the world represented. Santo Daime held an all-night ritual in which 600 people participated and at which Daime was served.

From Charlie K's Summary:
In 1985 the Brazilian government decided to add the ayahuasca liana to its list of proscribed drugs. The UDV soon petitioned the ban and the Brazilian government appointed a commission to investigate the issue. The commission found no evidence of social disruption associated with the sacramental use of ayahuasca (which the commission members tried themselves) and ayahuasca was removed from the Brazilian controlled substances list in August of 1987. More problems arose in 1988 when an anonymous source accused the churches of consisting of 'fanatics' who were "drug addicts or ex-guerrillas," given to smoking Cannabis and taking LSD during UDV rites. Because of this another study of the issue was ordered by the government, this time to investigate the technical aspects of ayahuasca's pharmacology. The conclusions of this study prompted the Brazilian government in June of 1992 to exempt Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis, as well as the ayahuasca potion, from its illicit drugs list. This legal decision has opened the doors to the further expansion of these churches, who have since held ceremonies in the European cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin [Ott 1994; Ott 1995]. An international scientific research team, the 'Hoasca Project', has recently been studying the long term effects, both psychological and physiological, of chronic ayahuasca use by these church members [McKenna 1994].

Santo Daime's Brazil Legal Status Information (cached copy)
CONFEN conluded in 1987 "The religious rituals conducted with the sacramental drink Santo Daime/Ahyauasca didn't bring injuries to the social life, though contributed to its better integration, being remarkable the benefits testified by the usuary religious groups members."
From Richard Glen Boire's Accomodating Religious Users:
In 1985, Banisteriopsis caapi, an essential constituent of the sacramental brew used by members of both churches, was added to the list of substances controlled in Brazil. However, after two separate studies by the Federal de Entorpecentes (Confen), including one where Domingo Bernardo Da Silva, the president of Confen, ingested the sacrament in a religious service,10 the government declared, in June 1992, that the use of Banisteriopsis caapi infusions for religious purposes has caused no social disruption and would not be outlawed.