Category: Uniao do Vegetal

Religious Sect, Government Settle Lawsuit regarding hallucinogenic tea

Hoasca A Santa Fe congregation that uses a hallucinogenic brew of South American plants as a sacrament thought its battle with the government was over in early 2006.

It had won a unanimous ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that year that said federal drug regulators hadn’t met their burden under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in trying to restrict importation and use of the tea.

But it wasn’t until last week that the case actually ended.

Sect Allowed to Import Its Hallucinogenic Tea

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 — A unanimous Supreme Court decision on Tuesday gave a small religious sect the right to keep importing a hallucinogenic tea, central to its ritual observance, that the government wants to ban as a controlled substance under federal narcotics law. With an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the decision was one of the most significant applications of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 13-year-old federal statute that requires the government to meet a demanding test before it can enforce a law in a way that creates a substantial obstacle to religious observance. The government

High Court sides with church in hallucinogenic tea dispute

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a small congregation in New Mexico may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God. Justices, in their first religious freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, moved decisively to keep the government out of a church’s religious practice. Federal drug agents should have been barred from confiscating the hoasca tea of the Brazil-based church, Roberts wrote in the decision. The tea, which contains an illegal drug known as DMT, is considered sacred to members of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, which has

On docket: religious freedom vs. drug laws

The Supreme Court takes up a case involving a New Mexico sect that could be important for other minority religions. WASHINGTON – In a case with potential important significance for minority religious groups in America, the US Supreme Court this week takes up a clash between the nation’s drug laws and a statute protecting religious liberty. At issue in the case set for oral argument Tuesday is the scope of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The law requires the federal government to justify any measure that substantially burdens a person’s ability to practice his or her religion. But

How Important Is Small Church’s Ritual?

The question is, when is a “compelling governmental interest” really, truly, a compelling governmental interest? At some point in its October term, the Supreme Court will take one more look at that abiding question. This time around, the question goes to the First Amendment rights of a handful of New Mexico citizens who count themselves members of a religious sect known as Uniao Do Vegetal -UDV for short. As part of their semimonthly ritual, they sip a small quantity of hoasca, a liquid derivative of two Brazilian vines. The Department of Justice says the bitter drink is a controlled substance,

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Church Can Import Drug

The Supreme Court accepted a Bush administration request to rule on a clash between religious freedom and drug-control law yesterday, announcing that it will review a lower court’s ruling that blocked enforcement of a federal ban on a church’s importation of hallucinogens. The court said it will hear the government’s appeal of a 2002 injunction issued by a New Mexico federal judge giving an Albuquerque group, O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV), the right to import hoasca, a psychedelic substance brewed in herbal tea, for use in certain rituals. The judge’s ruling, which was upheld last year by

High court agrees to review hallucinogenic tea case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether a church in New Mexico can continue using hallucinogenic tea in its religious services. At issue is whether use of the tea, which contains a drug banned under the federal Controlled Substances Act, is protected under freedom of religion laws. The Bush administration contends the tea is illegal and use of it potentially dangerous for church members. News in Context A Federal Appeals Court Says A Religious Group Can Import Illegal Drugs (Nov. 18, 2004) Federal Court Rules in Favor of Ayahuasca-using Church (Aug. 13, 2002) Sect leader sues

High Court Allows N.M. Church to Use Tea

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that a New Mexico church has the right to use a hallucinogenic tea in its services, rejecting a government argument that the tea is illegal and potentially dangerous. The ruling brings to a close a long-running legal fight between federal officials and the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal over the church’s use of hoasca tea, brewed from plants found in the Amazon River Basin. The legal battle began after federal agents seized 30 gallons of the tea in a 1999 raid on the Santa Fe home of the

Don’t Trip!: Supreme Court Halts Hallucinogenic Tea Service

The Bush administration on Wednesday won a Supreme Court stay that blocks a New Mexico church from using hallucinogenic tea that the government contends is illegal and potentially dangerous. The government has been in a long-running legal fight with the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal over hoasca tea, brewed from plants found in the Amazon River Basin. See Also A Federal Appeals Court Says A Religious Group Can Import Illegal Drugs Court Affirms Church Tea OK More news items about this case The church won a preliminary injunction in a lower court, and the Supreme Court was

A Federal Appeals Court Says A Religious Group Can Import Illegal Drugs

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act Shows Its True Colors The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently sat en banc – that is, in a larger-than-usual panel representing the Circuit as a whole – to address the claim that the federal drug laws do not apply to a particular church. The party adverse to the government was the O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal (UDV). It was secretly importing a tea-like substance called hoasca — which it refers to as the “vine of the soul,” the “vine of the dead,” and the “vision vine – from Brazil