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by Nicholas Saunders, 1997
(cached copy from (ayahuasca law index)
In Brazil, CONFEN (the Federal Drug Council) studied the Santo Daime, following long-running stories in Brazil's populist press claiming that the church brainwashed followers, exploited the doctrine for touristic purposes and exported ayahuasca illegally.

An enquiry in 1987 concluded that Daime had a positive influence on the community and encouraged social harmony and integration. The report warned against looking at the pharmacological aspect of the Church in isolation and without its religious, social and cultural context.

In June 1992 CONFEN stated definitively that the use of the ayahuasca drink was legal. CONFEN representatives had visited Ceu de Mapia and taken part in rituals. They found no evidence of harmful effects or potential for abuse of ayahuasca.

So far no country other than Brazil has officially permitted the use of ayahuasca for religious purposes and DMT is prohibited all over the world apart from those exceptions in Brazil. This has caused remarkably few problems, however. In Holland, the police actually raided a service and took away a sample. But instead of being charged with being in possession of an illicit drug, they were prosecuted under the Public Health Act because the tea contained too many bacteria! In Italy, Germany and Japan the police have also taken samples for analysis but no charges were brought. Followers have said that this is because they are 'protected' but an alternative explanation could be that the tea contains too little DMT to be show up in the tests- psychoactive effects can be produced by harmine alone, although the visual effects are not strong.

A further sign of the increasing official legitimisation of Santo Daime came with the Earth Summit Conference in Rio in June 1992. An inter-religious vigil was held with all of the major religions of the world represented. Santo Daime held an all-night ritual in which 600 people participated and at which Daime was served.