By Sofia Husainy and Isabel Carbery

What is this Drug?

Mescaline, or Peyote, is a Schedule 1 hallucinogen found in cacti. A typical Peyote Cactus can contain about 4% of the mescaline content.

This drug is known as one of the oldest drugs recorded since it was used in Native America rituals and early scientific and religious experiments. Mescaline is one of 40-60 alkaloids or nitrogen based compounds found in psychoactive cacti (Science In Context).

Street names for Mescaline are:

(Science in Context)

-Cactus Buttons
- Cactus Head
- Aztec
- Chief
-Big Chief
- Mesc
- Mezc
-Blue Cap

(Fig. 1: Wikipedia)

How is it used in Medicine?

Mescaline isn't used in medical research or medicine, but rather has a religious role in history. When mescaline was first discovered there was immediate interest for medical usage. It was thought to be used to help psychiatric disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and autism (Science in Context).

Once mescaline was named illegal, research for medical use of the drug was put to a halt, though some research continued in some sectors illegally (Science in Context).

Within the recent past mescaline has been found to help Native Americans fight the battle and overcome alcoholism in a safe manner (Science in Context).

How is the Drug Administered?

Peyote Cacti grow little nubs that are called buttons and contain the chemical Mescaline. They are often dried and then chewed or swallowed to get the desired effect. In Some cases it can be brewed and drunk as tea. It can also be ground into a powder to form tablets.

These tablets can be far more dangerous than their dried cousins since they could contain other types of drugs. According to the Health Canada Online, almost 90% of the Mescaline tablets sold on the streets are actually some other kind of drug (Science In Context).

(fig. 2 Vancouver Seed Bank)

What are the Physical and Psychological Effects of Mescaline?

While the effects of Mescaline aren't necessarily dangerous they can still have a big impact on mental and physical functions. It can cause changes in mood, sensory perception, sleep, appetite, body temperature, sexual drive and muscle control. (

Short Term vs Long Term Effects

Short Term Effects:

-Increased Blood Pressure

-Difficulty Sleeping

-Dry Mouth



-Excessive sweating

-Loss of Bodily control


Long Term Effect:

-Issues with Speech

-Memory Loss


-Weight Loss

-Depression and Suicidal Thoughts


How Long do the Effects Last?

The Effects of mescaline can last anywhere from two to twelve hours with varying levels of intensity. The shorter the trip, the more intense the hallucinations.

While the short term effects don't last long, the chemical does have effects on your brain. Due to this, the visions can reoccur months or even years later. When this happens, most users think they are seeing the future. (Narconon/Science in Context)

Withdrawal and Overdose

Since Mescaline is a plant based drug it is very hard to get addicted too, and there are very few cases where someone has suffered from an addiction to this substance. It is also not inherently dangerous so its very, very rare to overdose on Mescaline. (

What are the Laws and Societal Concerns for Mescaline?

For Schedule I drugs the Federal penalty is a fine of $1 million if an individual and $5 million if not an individual, and no more than 20 years in jail.

Since the drug is used for religious purposes it's legal for tribes to use it. It's only allowed for religious ceremonies and anyone found using it for recreational purposes will face the same penalties listed above. (

(Fig. 4 Salem News)

Getting Help for Mescaline Addiction

Mescaline may be titled as a schedule 1 drug due to its effects, but it is not a substance one becomes addicted to. If at all someone goes through rehabilitation for peyote use it is because they have a fear for it and want the effects to go a way, which can be treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy (Science in Context).