PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) A church in Ashland, Ore., can import and brew a hallucinogenic tea for its religious services, under a federal court ruling issued March 19.
Judge Owen M. Panner issued a permanent injunction that bars the federal government from penalizing or prohibiting the Church of the Holy Light of the Queen from sacramental use of “Daime” tea.
The church, which blends Christian and Brazilian indigenous beliefs, uses tea brewed from the ayahuasca plant in their services. The tea contains trace amounts of the chemical dimethyltryptamine, or DMT.
According to the church’s lawsuit, the tea is the central ritual and sacrament of the religion where members believe “only by taking the tea can a church member have direct experience with Jesus Christ.”
The Ashland church filed its suit against the federal Department of Justice and Treasury Department in February arguing that the tea should be allowed under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Panner ruled that federal drug enforcement agencies are prevented from prosecuting the church for importing, possessing and distributing the tea and as long as they abide by the judge’s guidelines.
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