February 2, 2008

"Can a psychotropic jungle potion cure the existential angst of the McMansion set?"

You remember hoasca (or ayahuasca), the psychedelic plant at issue in the Supreme Court case Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao Do Vegetal. Here's the post I wrote at the time about this most ironic case. The Supreme Court had narrowed the Free Exercise of Religion clause of the Constitution, saying generally applicable laws are fine even if they substantially burden religion. Congress reacted with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act forcing judges back into the task of giving religion-practitioners exceptions from general laws. And that ended up meaning that the Controlled Substances Act didn't apply to the importation of a powerful psychedelic drug when it is used for religious purposes.

So can anybody join this religion and use the otherwise-illegal drug?
For ayahuasqueros such as [the young medicine man named Lobo Siete] Truenos and the eclectic mix of button-down professionals and New Age acolytes joining him on this night, the potion may be a conduit to higher consciousness. Who exactly are these psychotropic explorers? Truenos won’t reveal much about them, except to say that the owners of the home in which they are meeting are retirees (young ones, it appears) and that participants typically include doctors, lawyers, celebrities, New Age healers and academics....

Truenos took the court decision as a green light. He and his wife, Gabriella, have been leading ceremonies for several years. They haven’t consulted attorneys; instead they take their orders from the “Creator,” he says....

Truenos mentions a recent private ayahuasca session in which a participant experienced “a trust crisis,” refusing to believe Truenos could heal him. Mother Ayahuasca admonished the man for such self-delusion, leaving him writhing on the floor, wracked with emotion.

Despite this harrowing episode, Truenos believes ayahuasca’s dark reputation is exaggerated. It is transformative and healing, he says, a cure for the “cancer of indifference,” a remedy for our “failures in integrity.” But it’s even more than that. “Some people,” he says, “need to be frightened by the way they live their lives.”

6 comments:

fstopfitzgerald said...

Dennis Prager on drugs.

"Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery."

Response: Most conservatives and liberals believe that legalizing drugs would result in large numbers of young people using life-destroying drugs. As for Rush Limbaugh, he illegally acquired prescription painkillers for chronic back pain. Only people with hatred in their hearts can liken that to using heroin and other nonprescription drugs that crush lives.


Actually, what I meant was Dennis Prager on the subject of drugs, but if he actually believes any of the above idiocy than he's probably taking some controlled substance more potent than even I can imagine.

God, the conservatives here must be so proud of old Dennis....

dmfoiemjsof said...

Serves Congress right for trying to pander to the religious right on the one hand, and fight an idiotic "war on drugs" on the other. Congress needs to give up on one or the other, or preferably both.

TMink said...

Just for fun I did a little reading on the topic (stupid, conventional weenie, I know) and the process of taking the drug sounds a bit challenging and austere.

I doubt anyone will be dropping their pills or powders to take this trip.

Trey

Simon said...

dmfoiemjsof said...
" Serves Congress right for trying to pander to the religious right on the one hand, and fight an idiotic 'war on drugs' on the other. Congress needs to give up on one or the other, or preferably both."

I doubt that Congress was trying to pander to the "religious right" since RFRA was passed while the Democrats controlled the House, and to my recollection passed without a single dissenting vote in either the House or Senate. (Born in a fit of pique over Employment Div. v. Smith, "one of the rare shining beacons of common sense in the Supreme Court's religion clause jurisprudence," RFRA was later held unconstitutional as applied to state action in City of Boerne v. Flores.)

halojones-fan said...

PJ O'Rourke took ayahuasca once, during a sightseeing trip into the Brazilian rainforest. According to the priest who gave it to him, it would "make him throw up and see the future".

He said that he didn't really notice any effect until he realized that he was climbing along a rope ladder two hundred feet above ground, between two jungle trees, and he wasn't at all concerned.

Unfortunately, the drug wore off before he climbed back down.

P. Rich said...

A druggie, is a druggie, is a druggie. All the rest is puerile rationalization. Ambiguity only creeps in when the drug of choice also has immediate, legitimate medicinal uses. But even then...