Altered by the hand of man – Legal clashes with ayahuasca and other plant psychedelics in the European courts
In Europe, the legal challenges facing ayahuasca practitioners are becoming increasingly apparent. By studying reported and unreported court proceedings from England as well as information gleaned from personal communication with defendants and lawyers, I clarify why its legality is so difficult to pinpoint as well as the reflexive implications on the outcome of future cases. I identify important legal points in the current debate and show that, despite judgments from the appellate courts, the pervading uncertainty is no closer to a meaningful resolution. While other European countries including the Netherlands have different judicial systems, they have also yielded judgments that render the English court decisions acutely relevant to further potential legal action. This presentation highlights why emerging strategic trends in plant psychedelic prosecutions are so troubling and summarises the coming challenges to ayahuasca users and jurisprudence scholars both in the UK and abroad.
Jonathan Hobbs read Natural Sciences at Cambridge where his dissertation looked at the medical history of psychedelics. He went on to study Science, Technology and Medicine in Society at Imperial College, UCL and the Wellcome Trust in London. His research interests include the philosophy of psychedelic consciousness and the social history of drugs control and governance.