We’ve written a lot recently about the law concerning the religious use of psychedelics (see here and here). This is an incredibly broad area of the law that is still developing. Our focus has generally been on the federal laws and decisions affecting religious use of psychedelics, though today we turn our attention to an important new state decision.
On December 22, 2020, the New Hampshire Supreme Court decided a case that is very significant for the religious use of psychedelics (the opinion is here). In that case, a person had been convicted of possession of psilocybin and appealed his conviction all the way to the state supreme court on the grounds that the trial court should have dismissed the case given his religious use of the substance. The court noted that the defendant was a member of the Oratory of Mystical Sacraments branch of the Oklevueha Native American Church, which church had specific rules regarding the taking of psilocybin to prevent things like public intoxication or driving while intoxicated.
Notably, the defendant only pursued state law challenges to his conviction. New Hampshire’s state constitution (which the court recognized has broader protections than the federal Constitution) contains a right to