The Psychedelic Surge and its Threats to Native American Communities

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Leora Karoll


The psychedelic substances market is preparing to outpace the legal cannabis market in the United States by 2027. The country’s federal policies are not prepared to protect Native Americans in the potential acquisition of their traditional resources such as peyote (Lophophora williamsii), a small and spineless cactus that contains psychoactive alkaloids. Through case studies of biopiracy instances in the United States and around the world, this paper demonstrates the vulnerability of Indigenous Knowledge and resources and advocates for its protection as the popularity of psychedelics surges. These cases prove how easily and recklessly Indigenous Knowledge and resources are exploited, barring Indigenous people from accessing them due to new patent rights, laws, or scarcity. President Biden pledged to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge in federal research and policymaking in 2022, but due to the lack of a Tribal consultation model and international agreements signed to protect Native Americans, the administration risks enabling further exploitation of these invaluable resources in the United States.

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