In recent years, the current international drug control framework has been increasingly questioned and we have experienced an opening of the corresponding debate as to whether the prohibition and severe drug policies centered on repression, stigmatization and criminalization are the most appropriate to manage the challenges associated with psychoactive substances. In many parts of the world, legal and public policy alternatives are being sought to overcome the unwanted consequences of prohibition and models of liberalization and regulation are being contemplated, particularly with cannabis. However, the family of plant species used in indigenous and pre-industrial societies since immemorial times, and more specifically ayahuasca, are experiencing a growing intolerance and repression, partly instigated by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the UN body responsible for monitoring the implementation of international drug treaties.
Although Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a controlled substance under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 of the United Nations, according to the INCB ‘no plant or concoction made of plants that containing DMT is under international control.’ The board adds that countries may have chosen to schedule ayahuasca at the national level. The same counts for Cacti containing Mescaline, Mushrooms containing Psilocybin, etc. Although only a few countries have explicitly prohibited ayahuasca, like France, in most states ayahuasca exists in a legal limbo that exposes people who import, organize sessions and use these ethnobotanicals to significant legal uncertainty. Since 2010, when the first "social alarm" instigated by the INCB appeared in its annual report, there have been arrests and prosecutions in many parts of the world for activities related to this Amazonian brew.