Peyote is a small, spineless cactus, Lophophora williamsii, whose principal active ingredient is the hallucinogen mescaline. From earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of traditional religious rites. Mescaline can be extracted from peyote or produced synthetically.
How is it used?
The top of the cactus above ground — also referred to as the crown — consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut from the roots and dried. These buttons are generally chewed or soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid.
What are its short-term effects?
Once ingested, peyote can cause feelings of nausea before the desired mental effects appear, which are altered states of perception and feeling. Other effects can include increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure; loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, tremors. Effects can be different during each use due to varying potency, the amount ingested, and the user’s expectations, mood and surroundings. On some trips, users experience sensations that are enjoyable. Others can include terrifying thoughts and anxiety, fear of insanity, fear of death, or fear of losing control.
What are its long-term effects?
Some users experience “flashbacks”, or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which are reoccurrences of hallucinations long after ingesting the drug. The causes of these effects, which in some users occur after a single experience with the drug, are not known.
What is its federal classification?
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)