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J Psychoactive Drugs. 1990 Jul-Sep;22(3):325-32.

Swallowing the scroll: legal implications of the recent Supreme Court peyote cases.

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  • 1Tuckahoe Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia 23226-3624.


Two cases decided by the United States Supreme Court in the past two years, with the same factual bases and involving the religious use of peyote by Native American Church members, are described and analyzed. In 1990 the Supreme Court ruled that states may prohibit the use of peyote for religious purposes. These cases are examined by applying traditional equal-protection and First Amendment religious liberty analyses as well as by traditional Western interpretations of sacrament. The Supreme Court now has established a legal precendent running contrary to previous lower court cases that has implications for the religious use of peyote, specifically, and for nontraditional use of sacramental drugs, generally.

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