Psychedelic Health UK reports
In what has been described as a “historic trial”, ICEERS has suggested that the verdict of an ayahuasca trial in Mexico opens the door for the country to become a pioneer in the regulation of indigenous traditional medicines.
Indigenous healer from the Peruvian Amazon, 64-year-old Don Jose Campos, was arrested and imprisoned on March 9, 2022 for traveling with ayahuasca.
Campos, who was handed an acquittal in Mexico City on Thursday, 7 March, 2023, was facing a potential 10 to 25 years in prison.
The International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS) has said that this is the first trial in a series of similar cases in which the people involved have been put in prison for months due to the country’s official pre-trial detention in the case of alleged “crimes against health.”
The organisation has welcomed the resolution, saying that it sets a legal precedent of respect for the rights of indigenous peoples in Mexico and the world.
Natalia Rebollo, ICEERS lawyer and coordinator of the ICEERS Legal Defense Program (ADF), stated that: “…this first case involved a weighing and prioritisation of the human rights of indigenous peoples against a rigid drug control system that, as has been proven, is based neither on human rights nor on the ample scientific evidence available, and that deserves to be revised.”
In its statement, the organisation notes that Dr José Carlos Bouso, pharmacologist and scientific director of ICEERS, participated as an expert witness in the area of science and pharmacology.
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The resolution of the ayahuasca trial sets a legal precedent of respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Mexico and the world
Mexico, March 7, 2023 — An acquittal was given in Mexico City in the trial of Don Jose Campos, a 64-year-old healer from the Peruvian Amazon who was arrested and imprisoned in March of 2022 for traveling with ayahuasca.
Accused of trafficking narcotics, Don José was charged with a sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison. This is the first trial in a series of similar cases where people are jailed for months because of the country’s official pre-trial detention for alleged “crimes against health.”
Natalia Rebollo, lawyer and coordinator of the ICEERS Legal Defense Program (ADF), stated that “This first case involved weighing and prioritizing the human rights of Indigenous peoples against a rigid drug control system. This system is not based on human rights nor the ample scientific evidence available, which deserves to be revised.”
Trial, Ayahuasca and Jurisprudence
ADF lawyers Natalia Rebollo and Jesús Alonso Olamendi have accompanied numerous trials in various parts of the world. They provide evidence, reports, and legal strategies that have established important jurisprudence at the international level. This evidence can be used in trials to demonstrate the legality of ayahuasca and other Indigenous ancestral medicines. In addition, ADF has focused on Mexico in particular, attending six of the eight cases of people serving time in prison for plant medicine.
Dr. José Carlos Bouso, pharmacologist and scientific director of ICEERS, participated as an expert witness in the area of science and pharmacology. He demonstrated that, based on the available scientific evidence, ayahuasca does not pose a risk to public health. “In this trial we have presented evidence on the therapeutic benefits of ayahuasca, coming from both our own research and that of our colleagues. We explained the two investigations we recently published on the effects of ayahuasca for public health in a large population of users,” he said.
Rebollo testified about the confusions arising between ayahuasca and DMT and focused on the human rights of Indigenous people who have an ancestral relationship with ayahuasca. “If ayahuasca were regulated in Mexican legislation, the botanical name of two of the plants it is made of would be included in the General Health Law. This is the case with other plants that are regulated such as peyote (Lophophora williamsii) or mushrooms containing psilocybin,” she said in statements published in the newspaper El País.
Regulating Indigenous Ancestral Medicines
This verdict opens the door to Mexico becoming a pioneer country in the regulation of Indigenous traditional medicines, as recently demonstrated in the Intercultural Forum on Entheogenic Medicine, co-organized by ICEERS and the Mexican Senate.
There are still seven more cases of people awaiting trial in preventive detention for crossing Mexico’s borders with ayahuasca. But the Campos trial establishes a precedent in the legal defense of ayahuasca in the country. ICEERS will continue to provide expertise to support these cases and ensure that similar sentences are granted in various countries.