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Religious Freedom and Drug Laws

  • By: William. C. Plouffe Jr
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Throughout history, religion and the use of drugs have occasionally intersected. Since before the time of Sybil in ancient Rome and the Oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece, where the priestesses are thought to have inhaled gasses to induce prophetic trances, drugs or hallucinogenic substances have been used in religious rites. Shamans in some primitive societies are also known to use them. Wine plays an important role in both Christian and Jewish ritual. In modern society, the religious use of drugs is more problematic because of the many laws prohibiting the use of drugs; the Volstead Act included an exemption for wine consumed in religious observance.

In the United States, some religions use illegal drugs in their religious rituals, including the Neo-Aquarian Church, the Universal Life ...

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