Prevalence of Reported Peyote Use 1985–2010 Effects of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1994

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Background:Peyote was classified as a hallucinogen in the Drug Abuse Control Act of 1965, leaving American Indian (AI) religious use in legal ambiguity. In 1994, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was amended to unambiguously protect the right of religious use of peyote for AIs.Objectives:The purpose of this article is to report the prevalence rates of peyote use by AIs compared to the rest of the US population and to determine what effect the act's passage had on peyote use rates.Methods:This investigation utilized an analysis of existing archived large nationally representative surveys of the American population. Data on peyote use rates was determined for most years 1985 through 2010. A total of 886,088 completed surveys were analyzed, of which 12,749 were from AIs. Use rates were triangulated using peyote harvest data.Results and Conclusions:Peyote use for AIs and the rest of the US population has remained stable between 1% and 2%. American Indian use rose dramatically in the 4 years following the AIRFA and leveled to just under 10%. The rapidity of the rise was excessive in light of the growth in the NAC and compared to the amounts of peyote stocks available. It is hypothesized that social desirability biases suppressed the Pre-AIRFA use rates due to peyote illegal status.Scientific Significance:Beyond describing peyote use rates and the effects of the AIRFA, this research adds to the body of evidence regarding the levels of under-reporting of illicit drugs. (Am J Addict 2014;23:156–161)

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