Peyote or Lophophora williamsii is a small, spineless cactus found in Mexico and in the Southwestern part of the U.S. Peyote is light blue-green, with small pink flowers, and has a carrot-shaped root. The top of the cactus above ground, also referred to as a crown or mescal, has disc-shaped button that are cut off from the root when harvested. Its principal active ingredient is mescaline, an alkaloid and one of several natural occurring hallucinogenic drugs. Peyote is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I drug. It is considered an illegal drug in all circumstances except for certain Native American tribes who use it for religious purposes.
Peyote can be consumed in either dried or fresh form. Most people chew the buttons but they can also be brewed into a concoction for drinking and/or eating which can mask the bitter taste, or they can be rolled into pellets that can be swallowed. Once ingested, peyote has been known to cause initial feelings of nausea before a dream-like state occurs which includes visions, changes in perception, and altered mood. Other short-term effects include increased body temperature, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and numbness. Each experience with peyote can vary; a user can experience enjoyable sensations during one usage and anxiety and fear during another usage. Long-term effects of peyote are debatable. Many suggest there are no noticeable long-term effects and the drug is non-habit-forming. However, other research concludes that some users experience flashbacks or hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), which are reoccurrences of hallucinations after taking the drug.