To drink Ayahuasca in a strictly legal setting you are best to head to either South America especially Peru or join one of the two legal Ayahuasca churches in the United States. If you are in Europe Spain and Portugal have options for you.
That being said the legal status of Ayahuasca is not black and white in many countries and as such there are other countries which may suit you geographically in order to drink Ayahuasca without fear of being arrested even though it may not be completely legal.
In this article I’ll talk about all of these options. Most of the readers of this site are in North America and then Europe so we’ll focus on these but before that let’s do some groundwork.
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a ‘psychedelic tea’ that originated from people living in the Amazon jungle thousands of years ago. While the ingredients sometimes vary by country it usually has two necessary ingredients in order to be effective.
- The leaves of the Chacruna Bush (this is the part which varies sometimes) which contains the psychoactive agent known as DMT or Dimethyltryptamine. It’s the DMT which causes the psychedelic experience.
- The Ayahuasca Vine itself does not have a psychoactive component but importantly it does have the ability to allow the DMT in the Chacruna leaves to travel through your stomach to the brain. This is because The Ayahuasca Vine has an MAOI (Monoamine oxidase inhibitor) which ‘neutralizes’, so to speak the, the enzyme (MAO or Monoamine oxidase) in your stomach which would normally stop the DMT from passing from your stomach to your brain.
When these two ingredients are combined and boiled over many hours they produce a tea which is then drunk by the user in order to illicit a psychedelic experience.
What Ayahuasca healings are possible?
It is used for many reasons by many people. In the west it is largely used as a way to resolve trauma and/or advance yourself spiritually and is considered very effective at both of these. A common and very useful ayahuasca healing experience is that for anxiety and/or depression.
The psychedelic component of the Ayahuasca Tea, known as DMT, is in some countries considered a controlled substance. While the plants components themselves are not illegal combining them to make a tea and drinking it is sometimes an illegal act depending on where you are in the world.
Why is Ayahuasca’s legal status important?
The legal status of Ayahuasca is important because when it is legal people have more surety around its safe use.
When things are illegal they tend to get pushed into the underworld and practices around them are not so easily able to be controlled in a safe fashion. Although it should be noted that its legal status in a country also doesn’t ensure its safety so perhaps it’s a moot point.
At the end of the day you must do your research into both the retreat and Ayahuasca in general in order to have a good experience with it regardless of its legal status.
From a slightly different angle, with Ayahuasca being so important and effective with regards to certain mental ailments and also the progression of the people of the earth spiritually anything which restricts its ability to be taken safely and commonly is, in my opinion, a bad thing.
Under what conditions do people drink legal Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is, traditionally, drunk in a ceremonial type setting with a group of people. Several or one Shamans (man or woman) can lead a ceremony and participants attend and drink the psychedelic tea.
This means that in order to go and drink Ayahuasca you usually need to find a shaman and the way they usually offer it to you is by you traveling to their retreat or home where you will drink with them with several other people (or more in some cases).
Where can you drink legal Ayahuasca or relatively legal Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca has not been determined to be legal or illegal in Mexico and as such you can find a retreat operating there – especially Quintana Roo state – that keep a low profile but operate.
- Mexico is an easy destination to get to from the USA, where most of the readers on this site are from, and is open during the Pandemic to international flights.
- Quintana Roo is mainly tourism based economically and as such it is relatively free of movement and curfew restrictions compared to the rest of Mexico.
- This is because while the international borders are open each state is allowed to set up its own rules around appropriate pandemic restrictions.
If you are in Europe, then Spain is similarly placed with regards to the grey area that Ayahuasca exists in but does not share the same international border restrictions that Mexico has. It has a few good retreats and Ayahuasca shaman offering their services.
You can read about Spanish retreats in our worldwide ayahuasca retreat guide.
Despite the next section and Ayahuasca’s legal status it is possible to find an Ayahuasca retreat in the USA which operates in the spirit of the existing legal status given to the UDV and Santo Daime.
Where can you drink Ayahuasca in complete compliance with the law?
North America (Santo Daime and UDV):
Ayahuasca legality in the United States in a confusing landscape but in short there are only two churches who are officially able to serve Ayahuasca (as a sacrament) legally.
These are the Santo Daime and UDV churches which have their origins in Brazil unsurprisingly – where Ayahuasca is completely legal to drink.
If you search for them and there is a church nearby this may indeed be an option for you however, you would need to become a member of the church in order to drink Ayahuasca legally.
Any other serving of Ayahuasca in the United States is technically illegal but this has not stopped many groups from claiming legal status.
You can read more about the legal status of Ayahuasca in the USA at this link.
In 2001 Portugal decriminalized all drugs and so Ayahuasca is completely legal. You can read about a Portuguese retreat option in our worldwide ayahuasca retreat guide.
Ayahuasca is absolutely legal in Latin American countries.
Peru is probably the most famous for Ayahuasca and has the most amount of Ayahuasca tourism however, Ayahuasca is also legal in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia (Ayahuasca is referred to as Yage in Colombia) and Bolivia (which has the oldest physical evidence of DMT usage thousands of years ago).
The Ayahuasca vine grows natively in the Amazon and as such South America has the longest history and experience with the psychedelic in the world. Some say that drinking in these environments is the best place to find the healing and/or spirituality that you may be searching for.
In honesty however, with Ayahuasca being such a popular activity of recent years you must do your research well in order to understand the quality and safety of those who you choose to drink whether the country specifies the Ayahuasca is legal or not.
You can read about retreat options in South America in our worldwide ayahuasca retreat guide.