Indigenous Leader Acquitted in Mexico of Charges Related to Traveling with Ayahuasca

    Establishing important jurisprudence at the international level as proof of Ayahuasca and other Indigenous ancestral medicine`s legality

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    A verdict of acquittal was handed down today in Mexico City in the trial of Don Jose Campos, a 64-year-old Indigenous healer from the Peruvian Amazon who was arrested and imprisoned on March 9th, 2022 for traveling with Ayahuasca.

    Accused of introducing narcotics, the Indigenous leader faced a possible sentence of 10 and 25 years in prison. This is the first trial in a series of similar cases, in which the people involved have been put in prison for months due to the country’s official pre-trial detention in the case of alleged “crimes against health.”

    Prioritization of human rights

    Natalia Rebollo, ICEERS lawyer and coordinator of the ICEERS Legal Defense Program (ADF), stated that “this first case involved a weighing and prioritization of the human rights of indigenous peoples against a rigid drug control system that, as has been proven, is based neither on human rights nor on the ample scientific evidence available, and that deserves to be revised.”

    ADF lawyers Natalia Rebollo and Jesús Alonso Olamendi have accompanied numerous trials in various parts of the world, providing evidence, reports, and legal strategies that have established important jurisprudence at the international level. This evidence can be used in trials as proof of the legality of ayahuasca and other Indigenous ancestral medicines. In addition, ADF has focused particularly on Mexico, attending six of the eight cases of people that to date are serving time in Mexican prisons for plant medicine.

    Positive health effects of Ayahuasca

    Dr. José Carlos Bouso, pharmacologist and scientific director of ICEERS, participated as an expert witness in the area of science and pharmacology, demonstrating that, based on the available scientific evidence, Ayahuasca does not pose a risk to public health. “In this trial we have presented the evidence that exists on the health effects of Ayahuasca, coming from both our own research and that of our colleagues, explaining more explicitly the two investigations we have recently published on the effects of Ayahuasca on public health in large populations of users,” he said.

    Resonance Luxury Ayahuasca Retreast

    Natalia Rebollo testified about the confusions that exist between Ayahuasca and DMT, insisting on the human rights of Indigenous people who use Ayahuasca ancestrally. “If Ayahuasca were regulated in Mexican legislation, the botanical name of the two plants that compose it would be included, as it occurs with other plants that are regulated in the General Health Law, such as peyote (Lophophorawilliamsii) or mushrooms containing psilocybin,” the lawyer said in a statement.

    Mexico becoming a pioneer country in the regulation of indigenous traditional medicines

    This verdict opens the door for Mexico to become a pioneer country in the regulation of indigenous traditional medicines, as evidenced in the recent Intercultural Forum on Enteogenic Medicine, co-organized by ICEERS and the Senate of the Republic.

    Although there are still seven more cases of people who remain in preventive detention, awaiting trial, for crossing Mexico’s borders with ayahuasca, this first procedure is decisive in establishing a precedent in the legal defense of ayahuasca in the country. ICEERS will continue to provide its expertise to support these cases and ensure that similar sentences can be handed down in various countries.

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