Arkansas

Arkansas has general protections for religious freedom under its state constitution and adheres to federal protections provided by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). However, the classification of psilocybin as a Schedule I controlled substance presents legal challenges for the religious use of entheogens.

 

 

Arkansas Constitution

Arkansas Constitution provides protections for religious freedom. Article 2, Section 24 states: “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination, or mode of worship, above any other”.

 

 

Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (ARFRA)

Arkansas enacted its own RFRA in 2015, codified in Ariz. Rev. Stat. §16-123-401, which states: “A government shall not substantially burden a person’s right to exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” This provides a legal framework that could potentially protect religious practices involving entheogens, provided they are recognized as legitimate religious exercises.

 

 

Federal Protections: Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

Arkansas residents are also protected under the federal RFRA. This federal law mandates that any substantial burden on religious exercise must be justified by a compelling governmental interest and must be the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.

 

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 RFRA, provided the practice is part of a sincere religious belief.

 

 

Practical Implications

Religious practitioners considering the use of entheogens in Arkansas face legal risks due to the classification of psilocybin as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, the protections under the Arkansas Constitution, the Arkansas 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

Arkansas Constitution: Article 2, Section 24 – Religious Freedom

 

Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (ARFRA): §16-123-401 to §16-123-407.

 

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

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