February 21, 2006

US top court allows religious hallucinogenic tea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. followers of a small
Brazilian-based religion can import and use hallucinogenic tea
in their ceremonies, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday
in a case pitting religious freedom against federal drug laws.

The top court in an opinion written by new Chief Justice
John Roberts rejected the U.S. government's effort to stop the
importation and use of sacramental hoasca tea by the New
Mexican branch of the religion called O Centro Espirita
Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal.

The justices upheld a U.S. appeals court ruling that the
government must allow the use of the herbal hoasca tea as part
of a spiritual practice because of a 1993 religious freedom

Members of the religion believe the tea is sacred and that
it helps connects them to God. The brewed tea, made from two
plants that grow in the Amazon, contains dimethyltryptamine, or
DMT, a controlled substance banned under federal drug laws.