Is Peyote Legal? What You Need To Know About Using Peyote

Is peyote legal?
If you’re considering using peyote, you may wonder, “Is Peyote legal?”

If you haven’t heard of peyote, you’re not alone. But, with the rising public interest in psychedelic drugs, despite their risks, more and more people are likely to be hearing about or offered peyote for the first time.

Because this drug has a complicated history in the United States, people may be confused about the legal status of the drug, and many people don’t know how peyote works or what to expect if they do use the drug.

Like all drugs, lack of information about peyote can be dangerous, not least because someone might lie to you about peyote’s legal status without you knowing any better.

Here’s what you need to know about peyote, if peyote is legal, and the effects and side effects.

What is peyote?

Is Peyote Legal? It’s Complicated

Peyote is a Schedule I drug federally, which is the highest level of control and is only used for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no currently known medical use. That means other drugs, like marijuana and LSD, are also on this list. But it’s not used for any drug that has some medical use.

That said, there is one important exception regarding the legal status of peyote, which is important because it means that peyote is a little harder to control than other drugs and that some people are allowed to use peyote in some situations legally.

That exception is that peyote can be used for certain Native American religious ceremonies thanks to the freedom of religion allowed in the United States.

At the same time, there are some limitations on the legal use of peyote. People who practice sacred rituals with peyote still aren’t supposed to use the drug casually. In addition, there are limits on how much peyote practitioners can have on hand, how they are supposed to get the drug, and more.

Since these religious practices are largely closed, and if you don’t know how a peyote ceremony works, you can’t legally use the drug, trying to learn the answer to “Is peyote legal?” won’t apply to you anyways. But, many people sell peyote, saying it’s legal to use as long as you claim it’s for religious purposes.

Unfortunately, because freedom of religion is important, this can be a difficult line to draw. At the same time, if you don’t legitimately practice the Native American religion that allows you to use peyote legally, you can’t just claim that your religion requires peyote use. Nor can you claim that you are founding a new religion that uses peyote.

So, for most people, peyote isn’t legal and should be treated like any other Schedule I drug.

Some small localities treat peyote differently. However, the federal government still has the final say, even in places that have locally legalized or decriminalized the drug. Also, local legal status doesn’t make a drug less medically dangerous than in other areas.

Peyote is also sacred and endangered, and illegal drug use may threaten to mean that peyote isn’t available for its traditional religious use.

What is peyote and what does it do?

What Is Peyote And What Does It Do

Now that we’ve covered whether peyote is legal and for whom, let’s talk about what peyote does and how it works. We’ll cover the effects that make people want to use peyote, as well as the side effects, duration, and risks associated with taking peyote.

First, let’s talk about peyote and where it comes from.

Like some other psychedelic drugs, peyote is derived from a natural plant that happens to produce a mind-altering substance, mescaline. Like most other naturally occurring drugs, peyote includes many other psychoactive compounds. However, mescaline is the most significant reason people take peyote.

Most people who use peyote use a specific part of the peyote cactus, which can be dried and consumed, made into tea, or ground into a powder that can be added to liquids, foods, or taken in a pill capsule. Peyote cacti can also be smoked.

The real limitation of this drug is knowing which part of the peyote cactus to use and how to process it without losing the mescaline content. Peyote buttons, the part of the cactus that contains the drug, take some expertise to identify and process. In addition, using part of the plant can change the chemical composition, which may sometimes lead to more intense side effects, with or without the desired effects from mescaline.

However, mescaline can also be chemically synthesized or refined from the plant, which may offer a more potent version of the substance without as many other active chemicals, depending on how the mescaline was isolated.

That doesn’t mean that mescaline alone is any less dangerous than taking peyote, and the two drugs are treated as functionally the same drug legally. But you should be aware that if you are offered mescaline, you’re being offered peyote under a less well-known name.

Side Effects Of Peyote

Unlike many other drugs, the side effects of peyote are known to be extremely unpleasant, and the unpleasant side effects of using peyote often precede the drug’s intended effects. They can also be more intense than the side effects of other drugs without necessarily indicating that something is more seriously wrong.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be aware of the risk of an adverse reaction, allergic reaction, or the possibility of taking too much of the drug, but that anyone taking peyote is likely to have a very significant set of side effects.

Here are some of the most common side effects of peyote:

  • Severe nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Shivering

In religious practices, peyote sweating and vomiting are considered cleansing and part of the process. But that also means that this drug can be unpleasant. Dehydration and hyperthermia can also be serious risks for people taking peyote, especially if they don’t know how to prepare beforehand.

Plus, since peyote messes with your body’s natural serotonin and dopamine production, it can have widespread effects on your mental health in the short and long term.

Unfortunately, like many Schedule I drugs, the full long-term risks and side effects aren’t well understood because little study was done to determine what they could be. However, based on user experience and what we know about other drugs that work similarly, the long-term potential for increased depression and anxiety is likely.

Peyote is also thought to cause flashbacks, where you get the side effects and symptoms of using the drug without actually taking more, more often than other psychedelic drugs.

Lower mood and frequent mood changes, which may be severe or, in some cases, dangerous, are also relatively common for at least several days after taking peyote.

How Long Does A Peyote Trip Last?

Like most drugs, the duration and intensity of a peyote trip can depend on how much of the drug you take and how you ingest it in the first place.

That said, because peyote gets processed relatively slowly after entering your system, it’s common for a peyote trip to peak after about 2 hours and gradually ease over the next 8-12 hours.

In some cases, people may take more than one dose of peyote spread out during their trip to extend the duration, but that also comes with increased side effects and increased risk of other medical complications since most people cannot sleep while on peyote and may find it difficult to stay well hydrated.

Is Peyote Addictive?

Rather than wondering if peyote is legal, your larger concern may be whether peyote is addictive. Peyote isn’t thought to be physically addictive because it doesn’t create chemical dependence in users, which is similar to other psychedelic drugs, and because users don’t tend to go from one drug experience to immediately wanting another.

That is a significant difference, but a drug not being addictive and being safe are two different things.

Peyote might not cause a typical addiction, but it can be dangerous both in itself and because people who take peyote may be more tempted to try other drugs, especially in the crash phase where they may be feeling especially low and unwell, and may want to self-medicate to deal with those feelings.

Whether you’ve been struggling with drug use, connected to peyote or not, getting the help you need and deserve to stop using is important.

Drug use is complicated, and so are the reasons people start using. Therefore, it’s important to address not only the drug use itself but also the hidden reasons and triggers for the behavior if you want to build a drug-free life in the future.

If that sounds like the kind of treatment and future you want to build for yourself, contact Epiphany Wellness today. We can help.


  1. DEA. (n.d.). Drug Scheduling. Retrieved from on 2023, February 27
  2. Chandler N. How Stuff Works. (2019, July 31). Peyote Is Endangered, Spiritually Sacred and Becoming Legal. Published July 31, 2019. Retrieved from on 2023, February 27
  3. T B. Verywell Mind. (2022, October 12). What to Know About Peyote Use. Retrieved from on 2023, February 27
  4. Schaefer A, Weiss H. Healthline. (2022, April 18). Peyote 101. Retrieved from on 2023, February 27

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