Few people know that peyote is completely legal in Canada, as it has always been. Although mescaline, peyote’s main psychoactive ingredient, is banned as a Schedule 2 drug, Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act specifically exempts peyote (Lophophora).
This disparity came about in the mid 70’s, when Canada was about to sign the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances. That convention insisted that mescaline be “controlled,” and that the easiest way to do that would be to ban peyote.
Although peyote does not grow naturally in Canada, native tribes in Alberta and Saskatchewan had been importing peyote buttons from Arizona and other arid locales in the American Southwest, and using them in peyote ceremonies, for at least a few hundred years. Some believe peyote has been imported into Canada for thousands of years.
Federal officials were surprisingly sympathetic to the peyotists’ plea not to ban their sacred plant, and so decided to only ban the extracted active ingredient, mescaline.
Internal government memos obtained by Cannabis Culture reveal that the bureaucrats considered banning peyote, but with a special exemption for religious users only. This was the route taken in the US, where only Native American members of the Native American Church are permitted peyote, although even then they are often harassed. However, the Canadian bureaucracy was worried that this would create a legal precedent for religious use of other plants, like marijuana and mushrooms.
Strangely enough, our government’s policy towards peyote is exactly opposite to its marijuana policy. If the peyote policy were adopted towards pot, it would mean that organic marijuana could be freely grown, while synthetic THC would be a banned drug!