Supreme Court greenlights mind-expanding tea

Refreshing news for Brazilian church

A US branch of a Brazilian church can use hallucinogenic tea as part of its religious rituals, the Supreme Court has decreed. The court ruled that the government "must allow the use of the tea under religious freedom laws", the BBC reports.

Around 130 members of O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal quaff "hoasca" tea twice a month during four-hour rituals, saying this is the only way they can understand God.

The Brazilian blend of hoasca uses Banisteriopsis caapi - a jungle vine known as "ayahuasca" in Quechua - which is a rich source of the hallucinogenic dimethyltryptamine (DMT). It's mixed with with extracts from either Psychotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana to produce the mind-expanding infusion.

Problem is, DMT is a controlled substance in the US. Back in 1999, federal agents grabbed the church's supply of hoasca. The Bush administration argued that the brew was illegal and dangerous, until the decision by Chief Justice John Roberts settled the matter.

Or not. The Supreme Court did return the case to a federal appeals court, where it could be re-examined with more evidence. ®

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