Is DMT Legal? .DMT is illegal throughout most of the world. In the United States, it’s considered a Schedule I drug — which means it’s illegal to possess any quantity of the drug at any time. This includes ayahuasca.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule:
1. Convention on Psychotropic Substances — This is a United Nations treaty signed in 1971 that allows nations to exempt certain psychoactive substances from the prohibited status if used in a traditional or religious context.
In the United States, there are two groups that have been granted this exception — Santo Daime and União do Vegetal. Both of these groups use ayahuasca and other psychoactive substances as part of their traditional sacrament.
2. Recently Oregon passed Measure 110 — which decriminalized small quantities of all illicit substances — including DMT. This doesn’t mean DMT is legal, but it significantly reduces the risk of jail time and fines if caught with substances like DMT.
3. Washington DC is also on the ballot for decriminalizing all psychedelics — including DMT.
Outside of specific exceptions, it’s wise to assume that DMT is completely illegal.
In many parts of the world, it’s punishable with jail time if caught in possession of DMT in any form.
Suggested Reading: Legalization vs. Decriminalization: What’s the Difference?
Psychedelic Research on DMT
Most of the available research on the therapeutic effects of DMT comes from studies on the traditional shamanic brew, ayahuasca .
DMT For Depression
Ayahuasca use has been shown to result in reduced ratings of “hopelessness” .
Other studies have shown dramatic improvements in depression scores lasting 21 days (or more) from a single dose of ayahuasca .
This research suggested DMT may offer significant long-term support for chronic depression. With that said, this research involving ayahuasca instead of pure DMT introduces some questions. Ayahuasca doesn’t contain just DMT; it’s also abundant in harmaline alkaloids as well — which are potent MAO inhibitors and have been shown to have direct antidepressant benefits of their own.
It’s also unclear whether the psychedelic trip itself (along with the introspective insights that come along with it) is responsible for the antidepressant action or if the physiological effects of DMT are responsible.
DMT For Addiction
There are no current studies available on the impact of DMT on treating addiction. However, there are a lot of studies highlighting this use for other psychoactive substances like psilocybin and LSD — both of which activate the same receptors as DMT.
Virtually all of the serotonin-dependant psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline) have shown impressive effects on alleviating addictive tendencies . DMT is a particularly interesting option because of its short duration of effects. It’s much more reasonable to administer DMT that lasts 15 – 30 minutes in an office setting compared to LSD or psilocybin — both of which can last several hours.
How DMT Works
DMT acts like the neurotransmitters glutamate and serotonin. It interacts with various receptors in the brain that cause a shift in neurochemical balance — producing what we experience as an altered perception of reality.
DMT works by interacting with our serotonin receptors — specifically through its effects on the 5HT2A receptors — which is the mechanism shared by most psychedelics (LSD, mescaline, MDMA, and psilocybin).
Serotonin is involved with numerous activities in the brain — from regulating mood and emotion to regulating the default mode network (DMN).