Terry has been studying peyote for three decades. He says overharvesting is happening because Texas does not allow for peyote cultivation.
In ecological terms, South Texas is known as brush country – i t’s home to lots of thorny shrubs, trees and palms. Its humid climate makes it similar to parts of Northern Mexico, and it’s only in these two places where you can find one member of the cacti family which has been controversial, to say the least: peyote – genus Lophophora – is a small cactus native to the Rio Grande Valley. It contains a psychoactive substance known as mescaline, and it’s been used as a religious sacrament in ceremonies by native cultures for centuries. But selling it is barred in every state except for the one where it grows: Texas.
Native American Church members like Mooney say these laws have been used as a way to persecute their people.
Alvaro Céspedes/Texas Standard
Johnson, the peyote distributor, traces his own roots to the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí where peyote grows and is used. To him, selling it something of a family tradition; he took over the business from his father, and he hopes that will continue after him.
“The most important document for a person to have is what we call the Certificate of Indian Blood, because that will show you who you are, who your parents are and your blood quarter; you have to be at least one-fourth [American] Indian to purchase peyote in the state of Texas, or possess peyote in the state of Texas,” Johnson says.
But Terry says this attitude towards peyote is nothing new.
But distributors like Salvador Johnson are only allowed to sell peyote to registered members of one religious organization called the Native American Church. To buy it, church members must prove their ancestry.
“People need to understand that law was not just to deal with peyote; it had to deal with peyote in the sense that it was a sacrament that the indigenous peoples of North and South America had used continuously, since before recorded history,” Mooney says.
In The Only State Where Selling Peyote Is Legal, The Cactus Is Threatened And Still Controversial Peyote sellers in Texas must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to