If there wasn't a penalty for laughing in court, the jury would never be able to hear the evidence. -- Samuel Clemens
PUBLIC LAW 103-344 - OCT. 6, 1994
108 STAT. 3125 -- 103d Congress
Passed House 8/8/94 -- Passed Senate 9/26/94
TO AMEND THE AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE
TRADITIONAL USE OF PEYOTE BY INDIANS FOR RELIGOUS PURPOSES, AND FOR
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "American Indian Religious Freedom Act
Amendments of 1994".
SECTION 2. TRADITIONAL INDIAN RELIGIOUS USE OF THE PEYOTE SACRAMENT.
The Act of August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996), commonly referred to as
the "American Indian Religious Freedom Act", is amended by adding at the
end thereof the following new section:
"SEC. 3. (a) The Congress finds and declares that--
"(1) for many Indian people, the traditional ceremonial use of the
peyote cactus as a religious sacrament has for centuries been integral
to a way of life, and significant in perpetuating Indian tribes and
"(2) since 1965, this ceremonial use of peyote by Indians has been
protected by Federal regulation;
"(3) while at least 28 States have enacted laws which are similar
to, or are in conformance with, the Federal regulations which protects
the ceremonial use of peyote by Indian religious practitioners, 22
States have not done so, and this lack of uniformity has created
hardship for Indian people who participate in such religious ceremonies;
"(4) the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of
Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), held that the First
Amendment does not protect Indian practitioners who use peyote in Indian
religious ceremonies, and also raised uncertainty whether this religious
practice would be protected under the compelling State interest
"(5) the lack of adequate and clear legal protection for the
religious use of peyote by Indians may serve to stigmatize and
marginalize Indian tribes and cultures, and increase the risk that they
will be exposed to discriminatory treatment.
(b)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the use,
possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide
traditional ceremonial purposes in connection with the practice of a
traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by
the United States or any State. No Indian shall be penalized or
discriminated against on the basis of such use, possession or
transportation, including, but not limited to denial of otherwise
applicable benefits under public assistance programs.
"(2) This section does not prohibit such reasonable regulation and
regisitration by the Drug Enforcement Administration of those persons
who cultivate, harvest, or distribute peyote as may be consistent with
the purposes of this Act.
"(3) This section does not prohibit application of the provisions of
section 481.111(a) of Vernon's Texas Health and Safety Code Annotated,
in effect on the date of enactment of this section, insofar as those
provisions pertain to the cultivation, harvest, and distribution of
"(4) Nothing in this section shall prohibit any Federal department or
agency, in carrying out its statutory responsibilities and functions,
from promulgating regulations establishing reasonable limitations on the
use or ingestion of peyote prior to or during the performance of duties
by sworn law enforcement officers or personnel directly involved with
public transportation or any other safety-sensitive positions where the
performance of such duties may be adversely affected by such use or
ingestion. Such regulations shall be adopted only after consultation
with representatives of traditional Indian religions for which the
sacramental use of peyote is integral to their practice. Any regulation
promulgated pursuant to this section shall be subject to the balancing
test set forth in section 3 of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
(Public Law 103-141; 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1).
"(5) This section shall not be construed as requiring prison
authorities to permit, nor shall it be construed to prohibit prison
authorities from permitting, access to peyote by Indians while
incarcerated within Federal or State prison facilities.
"(6) Subject to the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act (Public Law 103-141; 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1), this section shall not be
construed to prohibit States from enacting or enforcing reasonable
traffic safety laws or regulations.
"(7) Subject to the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act (Public Law 103-141; 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1), this section does not
prohibit the Secretary of Defense from promulgating regulations
establishing reasonable limitations on the use, possession,
transportation, or distribution of peyote to promote military readiness,
safety, or compliance with international law or laws of other countries.
Such regulations shall be adopted only after consultation with
representatives of traditional Indian religions for which the
sacramental use of peyote is integral to their practice.
"(c) For purposes of this section --
"(1) the term "Indian" means a member of an Indian tribe;
"(2) the term "Indian tribe" means any tribe, band, nation, pueblo,
or other organized group or community of Indians, including any Alaska
Native village (as defined in, or established pursuant to, the Alaska
Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)), which is
recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by
the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians;
"(3) the term 'Indian Religion' means any religion--
"(A) which is practiced by Indians, and
"(B) the origin and interpretation of which is from within a
traditional Indian culture or community; and
"(4) the term 'State' means any State of the United States, and any
political subdivision thereof.
"(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed as abrogating,
diminishing, or otherwise affecting--
"(1) the inherent rights of any Indian tribe;
"(2) the rights, express or implicit, of any Indian tribe which
exist under treaties, Executive orders, and laws of the United States;
"(3) the inherent right of Indians to practice their religions; and
"(4) the right of Indians to practice their religions under any
Federal or State law.".
from material contributed to the Library by Tom Leonard, a member and
director of the Ponca Chapter of the Native American Church of Oklahoma.
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