News From the Border

Providing the news from a different front but from a war that we must win as well! I recognize the poverty and desperate conditions that many Latinos live in. We, as the USA, have a responsibility to do as much as we can to reach out to aid and assist spiritually with the Gospel and naturally with training, technology and resources. But poverty gives no one the right to break the laws of another sovereign nation.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mescaline (Peyote) on the Mexican Border

Texas is the only state in the country where peyote is sold legally. Really.
By Russell Cobb

Mauro Morales picks his way through mesquite trees and prickly pear cacti. The 65-year-old cautiously steps around a thicket of tasajillo, or rat-tail cactus, just down the road from his small ranch near Rio Grande City. Tasajillo thorns stick you like a fish hook, he says. Then there's the cola seca — the rattlesnake — another job hazard.

"We're far enough from a hospital that you probably wouldn't make it if you got bit," he says in a quiet voice, as though a snake might take his words as an invitation to strike.

Morales has been wandering through the chaparral for half an hour, staring at the ground. He combs over small rocks with a stick. Finally, he spots a greenish knob, sprouting out of the ground under the tasajillo thicket.

Still, harvesting and selling peyote is illegal for all but three people in the entire country. And those three people happen to be located in Texas, operating in a swatch of South Texas between Rio Grande City and Laredo.

These people — Morales is one of them — are called peyoteros, people who make their living selling peyote buttons to the approximately 250,000 Indian members of the Native American Church. Only 20 years ago, there were dozens of peyoteros in small towns along the border. Now, two of the three still working are in their sixties. Meanwhile, membership in the Native American Church is growing and demand for peyote is outstripping the limited supply.

For Native American Church members, this 70-mile stretch of land used to be known as the "peyote gardens" — the only place on U.S. soil where the cactus grows in its natural habitat.

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