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    Legal Incident Trends During Pandemic Times


    In recent years, the ADF has evolved into an international hub where we can observe, analyze and, at times, even predict when legal incidents involving teacher plants are on the rise.

    The pandemic forced different countries to gradually confine their populations and we expected that incidents would be significantly reduced due to mobility restrictions, barriers to carrying out works or ceremonies during this time, and the significant reduction in commercial flights. It was also our hunch that the authorities would be investing resources in meeting the challenges of the pandemic and that the ADF would join the global “pause” for a few months.

    To our surprise and contrary to predictions, we’ve seen a rise in legal incidents in different parts of the world. Now that this global pandemic has called for a new understanding of what public health entails, the ADF’s work has become essential in the defense of teacher plants and their endless benefits.

    In the past three months, we have been informed of, and supported, legal cases in Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, and Austria. In order to continue to provide the community with information that could help prevent legal incidents, we’re sharing information about some of the cases we have been working on.



    There is a widespread belief that because drugs are decriminalized in Portugal, that it is therefore legal to import and possess psychoactive plants, such as ayahuasca. However, this is not the case. Our experience has led us to understand that the context is complex and decriminalization does not imply legalization.

    Over the past three months, we’ve learned of three separate legal incidents. The first resulted from the confiscation of a two-kilogram shipment of ayahuasca from Peru. After being detained in customs, the defendants were accused of international drug trafficking. The second incident also was triggered by the confiscation of an ayahuasca shipment from Peru. The defendant is no longer under preventive detention and is currently awaiting formal charges. The third incident happened when yet another person received another package and was immediately arrested. The process is unfolding and the trial is expected to begin in September.



    Police raided the defendant’s home, confiscated ayahuasca, and issued a fine of CHF 2,344 for possession of DMT. The person is filing a legal appeal to challenge the fine.



    Over the last few months, a series of somewhat disconcerting events have occurred in the USA. As reported by the Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants, several expecting to receive packages from Peru, Brazil, or Colombia have received letters from Homeland Security indicating that their packages have been confiscated and that they will receive further news in the future.

    We’ve learned that this has occurred primarily in California, Arizona, and other states. In parallel, there have been three seizures of ayahuasca and police interrogations in New Mexico, Washington State and Arizona.



    In recent years we’ve seen a slow but progressive increase in ayahuasca legal cases in Germany. The first case concerns a person who received a shipment of three liters of ayahuasca. After receiving documents from the ADF team – precedents, resolutions and the Ayahuasca Technical Report – the authorities recognized that the percentage of DMT in ayahuasca is extremely low. However, we are still waiting for resolution or formal charges (if any).

    The second case in Germany concerns a person who received six kilograms of ayahuasca from Ecuador and the authorities have opened an investigation for the possession of six kilograms of DMT. This is therefore a case that will also require educating the authorities on the differences between ayahuasca and DMT.



    A person who received a package containing three liters of ayahuasca in Bali was arrested. Strict laws in Indonesia provide a complex context for this case. The accused is still detained and there are indications that due process are not being followed.



    A package was intercepted by police and the individual was arrested on suspicion of international drug trafficking. The ADF team has shared all available technical and legal documents to ensure that ayahuasca practices are defended in Austria.


    Author: Natalia Rebollo.

    Photograph: Pikrepo.

    Categories: Ayahuasca , ADF
    Tags: legality , ayahuasca , Ayahuasca Defense Fund , ADF