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The Decline of American Peyote


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dmoberhaus writes:
An investigation into the decline of America's peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus that is critically important to the rituals of the Native American Church, the largest pan-tribal religious organization in the U.S. Motherboard spoke with Dawn Davis, a researcher using satellite data to track the destruction of peyote's habitat, as well as Salvador Johnson, one of only four people who is licensed to harvest and sell peyote in the U.S. by the DEA.
"In 2011, Davis traveled to the peyote gardens for the first time and met with Johnson," reports Motherboard. "Davis said that Johnson was following many conservation best practices, such as cycling through the areas where peyote is harvested, but this hadn't slowed the steady decrease in the size and quantity of peyote buttons in his harvests. Today, the biggest threats to peyote continue to be rapid land development, poaching, and rooting by feral pigs -- problems that responsible harvesting by peyoteros can't solve." 

While there has been an increase in the number of indigenous people growing peyote in greenhouses, this is only a temporary solution to the conservation crisis. Davis is advocating for conservation easements or tax breaks for landowners to encourage the protection of peyote. She also said it will be necessary to push for the DEA to reschedule peyote, which is still considered a Schedule I substance that has "no currently accepted medical use." This makes it exceedingly hard for individuals to become licensed peyoteros.

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