Globalisation has facilitated cultural exchange between indigenous traditions and Western practices, which has led to a growing interest in the ritual, religious and therapeutic use of ayahuasca

Indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used ayahuasca for centuries as a remedy for physical and psychological health, and to ensure the life and wellbeing of their communities. In the past two decades, the use of this decoction has expanded beyond Amazon indigenous spheres. Globalisation, and with it the contact between populations, has facilitated cultural exchange between indigenous traditions and Western practices, which has led to a growing interest in the ritual, religious and therapeutic use of ayahuasca.

People who participate in the sessions have a positive perception of its use; while most scientific research over the past decade supports the subsequent benefits attributed to it. But the increased use of ayahuasca has not been free from challenges, such as its excessive commercialisation in the Amazon, linked to ayahuasca tourism, or the exploitation of natural resources used for its preparation. Despite not being a controlled substance at the international level, and not banned in almost any national jurisdiction, in recent years there have been an extraordinary number of detentions and judicial prosecutions in Europe, the United States and Latin America for ayahuasca importation and use. This contradiction has produced a number of uncertainties regarding its legal and political status, which varies between countries.

In this policy brief, ICEERS and TNI offer an analysis of the challenges associated with the globalisation of ayahuasca.

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