Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine), most commonly known as Peyote, is a
Schedule I Controlled Drug and is classified as a hallucinogen. The chemical formula is
[(CH3 O)3 C6 H2 CH2 CH2 NH2 ], and it effects the brain by interfering with the normal
functions of such neurotransmitters as serotonin. These effects are found mostly in the
brain stem, where the neurons are particularly effected by hallucinogens. Duration of it’s
effects last about twelve hours.

Mescaline is commonly found in cacti such as Peyote (lophophora williamsii),
San Pedro (trichocerus pachanoi), and Peruvian Torch (trichocerus peruvianus). There
are also synthetic forms of Mescaline referred to as PCP, STP, and other street names. It
is most frequently used by ingesting, “buttons,” made from the dried tops of the Peyote
cactus. Other forms of use include teas, smoking, intravenous injection, and in powder
form using capsules. It is sold as a street drug and it is for readily available in the south
western states and in areas where it is used in ceremony.

Mescaline carries a wide margin for dosage error and has little or no withdraw
effects, although the dangers do increase with higher dosages. A light dose (100-200mg)
can give the user feelings of giddiness or anxiety, and a moderate dose of Mescaline
(200-300mg) begins to impair the senses. Strong doses (300-500mg) will induce
hallucinations and effect the user’s perceptions of color, time, and space. Heavy does of
Mescaline (500-700mg) and frequent use of mescaline will cause symptoms of
schizophrenia, psychotic episodes, and may be fatal. At any point the user may also feel
the effects of nausea, dizziness, depressed or increased breathing, as well as increased
heart rate and blood pressure. Long term effects also include chromosomal damage and
possible birth defects.

Possibly due to it’s euphoric qualities, Mescaline is used in Native American and
Mexican Indian rituals and is believed to hold great spiritual power. Mescaline also
provides feelings of a union with nature, due to a dissolution of personal identity. The
Nahuati Indians called it teonanacatl- “God’s flesh.” Peyote is a sacrament of the Native
American Church, and its use in ceremony is considered to be a form of communion with
God. An elaborate ritual is held and the user uses his or her visions for spiritual guidance
and enlightenment. The Native American church continues to practice this fundamental
ritual despite persecution and the illegality of it and has done so since it was adopted from
South American tribes. The hallucinations brought on by the use of Peyote are believed
to be both mentally and spiritually enlightening, and the insights gained are remembered
for personal growth by South American tribes also.

In past years, Mescaline has been experimentally used in psychology for treatment
of schizophrenia and psychotherapy for alcoholism and terminal cancer patients. The
results show some potential value in these fields, providing relief of severe pain brought
on by these conditions. Research tentatively continues, however the results of these
treatments are clouded by many social and political issues involving the laws of
scheduled drugs and the fear of addiction of the users. Its research usage and findings
have followed a similar course to that of LSD, a similar hallucinogen and has been
limited since it was classified as a controlled substance. This is unfortunate because, like
LSD, past research indicates that it hallucinogens can be used in a possibly beneficial
way and certainly the research merits a further examination.

Mescaline has been seem as a positive and spiritually enlightening drug and also
as a dangerous drug used for recreation, its effects blamed for bizarre behavior like
jumping out windows. It holds a mystique that has been popularized by the media,
movies, and groups such as the Doors. It certainly effects a persons perception of the
world for a time and alters the brain. I think the information about this drug is
inconclusive and only vaguely informative. So, until we learn more, this drug will be
mired in mystique and perhaps stuck in a bad reputation that has not been fully earned.