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Peyote (Lophophora williamsii or Lophophora diffusa) is a small, spineless cactus that is found in the southwest United States, northern Mexico, and Peru. The plant has been used for about six thousand years by native tribes for religious and healing purposes.
Peyote’s principal active ingredient is mescaline, a psychedelic compound that can also be man-made through chemical synthesis.1
Peyote buttons (protrusions found on the tops of the cactus plants) are usually dried and then chewed. They can also be soaked and consumed as a liquid (such as tea), ground into a powder that can be taken in capsules, or smoked with tobacco or cannabis.2
As a Schedule I substance, peyote is considered an illegal and addictive drug in the United States. However, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) Amendments of 1994 gives Native Americans the legal right to use peyote for their religious services.3
The exemption has been an ongoing and contentious issue for years, although case law has determined that even members of the Native American Church who do not have Native American ancestry can legally use peyote in this context.
Also Known As: Peyote is also known as buttons, cactus, mesc, peyoto, blue cap, broken, bad seed, britton, hikori, hikuli, half moon, hyatari, P, nubs, seni, and tops
Drug Class: Peyote is classified as a hallucinogen.
Common Side Effects: Peyote is known to cause nausea and vomiting, increased body temperature, hallucinations, altered perceptions of space and time, impaired motor coordination, euphoria, and anxiety.2
How to Recognize Peyote
Peyote buttons (the “crown” or top of the peyote cactus) look like disc-shaped buttons. They can be fresh or dried. Users can chew them or soak them in water to make an intoxicating liquid.
Since peyote has a bitter taste, it is also ground into an off-white powder that is placed inside a capsule to be swallowed or sprinkled into a cigarette or marijuana joint to be smoked.
What Does Peyote Do?
Peyote is a hallucinogen, meaning it can cause profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality (known as hallucinations), including seeing, hearing, and feeling things that seem real but are not.
Hallucinogens are thought to affect neural circuits in the brain involving the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in mood, sensory perception, sleep, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, and muscle control.4
The effects of peyote (which can range from a deeply mystical transcendental state to a “bad trip” and dysphoric symptoms) will depend on the potency and amount that is ingested, as well as the user’s expectations, mood, surroundings, and mental health history. Many users describe the high as dream-like.5
The effects are often intensified when the drug is combined with substances like alcohol or stimulants, which can potentially harm a person’s mental health.6
Users can begin to experience the drug’s effects (as well as physical discomfort, including nausea, sweating, and chills) within 30 minutes of ingesting peyote. The effects can last up to two hours before reaching a peak.
10 grams, 15 grams, 25 grams, 35 grams