Economics and future of ayahuasca
The growth of global ayahuasca use over the past 20-25 years is unprecedented. Somewhere in the 1980’s ayahuasca came out of the Amazon and started to spread. First to big cities and South America, and not much later it arrived in North America and Europe. The Netherlands had an early start with ayahuasca, compared to other European countries. Already between 1995 and 2000, several different types of ayahuasca ceremonies were organized, ranging from the Brazilian based Santo Daime church, a New Age style Santo Daime spin-off, some visiting indigenous Southamerican shamans, and Do It Yourself (DIY) style rituals. The land mark ruling of a Dutch court in 2001 allowing the Santo Daime church to use ayahuasca as the fundamental human right of freedom of religion, was seen by many as a de facto legalisation. The result of 20 years of Ayaauasca in the Netherlands: In 2016 two different branches of the Santo Daime church are based in the Netherlands. The Santo Daime New Age spin offs are numerous. Recently a branch of the Uniao Do Vegetal (UDV), another Brazilian based church, was founded. Many indigenous Southamerican medicinemen and – women pass by every year. Some of them have a following in the hundreds. Some Europeans are apprentices, and conduct their own ceremonies. Since it easy to get the plant materials, DIY rituals thrive. And people drink alone at home. ‘Don’t do this at home’ is an advice lost in the ambition to become a shaman. The Netherlands has become a regional ayahuasca center, where Europeans come to have their first experience. A short search on the internet finds more then 10 organizers of ayahuasca ceremonies, some specifically aiming at foreign drinkers. Others stay away from publicity. Quite a few successful organizers don’t use websites to attract participants. The basic economic principle of demand and supply can be seen in its full force. The demand is increasing all the time. Organizing ayahuasca ceremonies is becoming a small scale industry, in line with similar developments in South America.
Arno Adelaars is an independent drugs researcher and writer based in the old part of central Amsterdam. He wrote the very first book on MDMA in Europe in 1991. He witnessed the rise of the Smart Shop phenomena, where psilocybine containing mushrooms were sold legally, and wrote a practical guide for mushroom users in 1997, which is still in print. He got in touch with ayahuasca in 1995, and has since then devoted his life to this amazing Amazon plant brew. He has been drinking ayahuasca many hundreds of times in very different circumstances in Europe, the America’s and Asia. His book on ayahuasca, published in German in 2006 with co-authors dr. Claudia Mueller-Ebeling (art historian) and dr. Christian Raetsch (ethnobotanist), will this autumn come out in a revised and updated english version in the US.