Magic Mushrooms In Religious Ceremonies – Legal or Not?

Religious Exemptions for Magic Mushroom Use. Religious exemptions for magic mushrooms or psilocybe cubensis mushroom spores are, to put it mildly, a contentious topic within the United States, particularly with regard to the use of scheduled substances like peyote, marijuana, or psilocybin for use in mushroom ceremony events.

Psychedelics and Religion + Mushroom Mythology + Psilocybin Law

On the side of persons who want to use these kinds of substances in their religious ceremonies for psychedelics and religion use, the gist of the argument goes like this: according to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, citizens have freedom of religion (see full text of the First Amendment below). Thus, if part of that religion involves the consumption of a scheduled substance for ancient mushroom rituals, participants should be exempt from negative legal consequences. There are numerous examples of hallucinogens in religion use in history for perspective in mushroom mythology.

Are psilocybe spores legal is an area of psilocybin law that’s not yet totally settled between all states for legality of use purposes in the United States of America.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment

Psychedelic Mushroom Spores Legalization

At first glance, it seems pretty cut and dry for psychedelic mushroom spores legality perspective if your religious beliefs involve the ritual use of a given substance, you should be able to use said substance and do so protected under the rights granted to you by the Constitution.

However, those on the other side of the argument—often lawmakers—might point out that just because you say a particular activity is a part of your religion, doesn’t mean that it supersedes all other laws. Extreme examples such as human sacrifice tend to be bandied about (something which is obviously illegal and, to this author’s knowledge, has never been petitioned by a religious group to grant an exemption for).

Is Psilocybin Legal for Religious Purposes? The Answer Remains Predictably Murky

rabbi gorelick sacred tribe
Rabbi Ben Gorelick and members of The Sacred Tribe

Psilocybin Compared to Other Hallucinogens

An example of a successful exemption for the use of a controlled substance such as psilocybin hallucinogens in a religious context is peyote. Psilocybin compared to other hallucinogens is an interesting topic for religious use purposes.

American Indian Religious Freedom Act

In 1978, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed in response to religious ceremonies held by the Native American Church. The cultivation, possession, and consumption of peyote for “bona fide” (as lawmakers put it) use of peyote by members of the Native American Church is, at the time of this writing, legal.

No such exemptions currently exist for Psilocybin, but that may soon change. Or as you’ll later learn in this article, if psilocybin mushrooms become legalized in the State of Colorado, will make an exemption unnecessary.

The Sacred Tribe of Denver, which has just under 300 members, is a religious organization dedicated to “exploring the relationship to self, community, and God” through a version of Kabbalah, the esoteric school of thought in Jewish mysticism—and, of course, magic mushrooms.

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Once a month or so, Rabbi Gorelick and members of The Sacred Tribe gather to take psilocybin mushrooms, which Gorelick and his helpers grow themselves. Attendees are provided with comfortable places to sit on the floor in his facility, where they engage in a guided breathing exercise, musical accompaniment, and the consumption of a custom magic mushroom paste that Gorlick and his team prepare beforehand.

Rabbi Gorlick’s magic mushroom extract paste is comprised of any of the 35 different strains his team cultivates on-site. It was during a routine fire inspection last month in January when the cultivation operation was spotted by a firefighter, who reported it to the local police. Shortly after, police arrived with a search warrant and raided the premises.

Later, Rabbi Gorelick turned himself in—because he believes that no wrongdoing, legal or otherwise, has taken place. Since his organization doesn’t sell or distribute magic mushrooms outside of their religious gatherings, Gorelick believes his group is protected by a religious exemption and the First Amendment.

The Sacred Tribe stands by our religious exemption and we believe in our religious exemption. I am absolutely fully confident that at the conclusion of vetting of our processes that life will go back to normal.

Rabbi Ben Gorelick

What happens next with Rabbi Gorelick and The Sacred Tribe remains to be seen, but if psilocybin and entheogen advocates have their way, come this November these substances may be legalized statewide.

magic mushrooms religious exemption

Will Colorado be the First to Legalize Psilocybin and Other Entheogens?

Colorado will again soon have the chance to lead the charge in shaping the legal framework surrounding entheogens.

Regular readers will recall that Denver was the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin. Other cities, such as Oakland and Santa Cruz, quickly followed suit.

Since then, the laws surrounding psilocybin have been changing rapidly in the favor of advocates, with perhaps the biggest win in recent memory being when the state of Oregon legalized magic mushrooms among other substances for therapeutic purposes, to be distributed by licensed medical professionals.

In November of this year, Colorado voters will likely get the chance to make their voices heard on two different psychedelic measures on the ballot. Lead by advocacy organization Decriminalize Nature Colorado, one of the measures will seek to legalize psilocybin and other entheogens statewide.

The other measure is lead by New Approach PAC, which includes both decriminalization measures as well as a pathway to legalization.

If either of these measures make it onto the ballot and are passed—which isn’t outside the realm of possibility by any means—perhaps Rabbi Gorelick and The Sacred Tribe won’t have to worry about getting an exemption from the DEA after all.