Arizona

Arizona has robust protections for religious freedom under both the state constitution and its own version of the RFRA. These protections could potentially defend the religious use of entheogens, though legal challenges remain due to their classification as Schedule I substances.

 

Arizona RFRA

Arizona enacted its own Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1999, which is codified in Ariz. Rev. Stat. §41-1493.01. This statute requires that the government must not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion unless there is a compelling governmental interest and it is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. This state law provides a legal framework that could potentially protect religious practices involving entheogens, provided they are recognized as legitimate religious exercises.

 

Arizona Constitution

Article II, Section 12 of the Arizona Constitution safeguards religious freedom, ensuring that “the liberty of conscience secured by the provisions of this constitution shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state”​. This provision emphasizes the protection of religious exercise while maintaining public peace and safety.

 

Federal Protections: Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

Arizona residents are also protected federally. The precedent set by the 2006 Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal allows for the use of Schedule I controlled substances in religious ceremonies under the federal RFRA, provided the practice is part of a sincere religious belief.

 

Practical Implications

Religious practitioners considering the use of entheogens in Arizona face legal risks due to the classification of psilocybin as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, the strong protections under the Arizona RFRA and the federal RFRA offer potential defenses. Practitioners should be prepared to demonstrate the sincerity of their religious beliefs and the necessity of entheogens for their spiritual practices. Seeking legal counsel and maintaining thorough documentation of religious practices are recommended to support any potential defense.

 

Sources

Arizona Revised Statutes: Ariz. Rev. Stat. §41-1493.01 – Arizona Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

 

Arizona Constitution: Article II, Section 12 – Liberty of Conscience; Appropriations for Religious Purposes Prohibited; Religious Freedom​

 

Supreme Court Case: Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal (2006).

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