The Use of Entheogen Drugs in the United Kingdom: A Misuse of Drugs or a Lawful Expression of the Right to Religion?

Patrick R. Goold, Cornell Law School


The paper discusses the legality of ayahuasca, amanita muscaria and salvia divinorum. These are each forms of plants or fungi which have been used for centuries in religious rituals. Their use is becoming more prevalent in the United Kingdom. At the time of writing the drugs are still legal in the UK. After a brief background on the drugs themselves, this paper raises and examines two questions in relations to each of them, namely, whether they should be regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and whether their use in religious contexts can be justified by the European Convention on Human Right’s protection of the right to religion?