On February 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a document to the legal team representing the Church of the Eagle and the Condor (CEC). This disclosure came two years after the CEC and the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines submitted two FOIA requests to the DEA and the Department of Justice requesting all records pertaining to ayahuasca. The report, titled “Ayahuasca: Risks to Public Health and Safety,” was issued in July 2020. It takes a very clear stance against the use of ayahuasca, claiming that it presents a significant risk to public health and safety. The report is in line with the prohibitionist approach of the US government, which has continued to target ayahuasca groups through seizures, arrests and other actions. The report is also a strong indication that the government will be resistant to recognizing religious minorities and traditional populations’ rights.
The controversial report did not go unnoticed by the scientific community, which was highly outraged by numerous unfounded claims made by the DEA. A group of scholars from different fields such as biology, neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and sociology got together and wrote an important piece published in the latest issue of the peer reviewed Journal of Psychedelic Studies contesting the DEA’s report.
The article, titled “The DEA Report on Ayahuasca Risks: ‘Science’ in Service of Prohibition?” is the result of a partnership between Chacruna Institute and renowned experts on ayahuasca. It challenges a number of assertions made by the DEA, highlighting significant factual omissions, theoretical biases, and misinterpretations of existing data. The article highlights how the DEA report severely downplays the safety profile and therapeutic potential of ayahuasca, ignores a vast body of epidemiological evidence from its use among indigenous and religious communities around the world, and overemphasizes the risks, while failing to include current research on ayahuasca demonstrating its potential benefits.
This thought-provoking article shows that the prohibitionist paradigm and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities will not be ignored and that the global scientific community is taking a stand against the criminalization of ayahuasca.