NH Supreme Court rules in favor of religious freedom to use psychedelic mushrooms
- The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in favour of a North County resident’s use psilocybin mushroom for religious purposes.
- Jeremy D. Mack of Colebrook, NH, was convicted of growing and using psilocybin mushrooms in his home in 2018.
- The Supreme Court bench ruled that every individual has a right to practice their religion under the New Hampshire constitution.
In a unanimous ruling on Tuesday, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed a conviction of a North County resident who was charged with the possession of psilocybin mushrooms in 2018. The court cited the state constitution, which it says protects individuals consuming psychedelic mushrooms as a religious act.
The bench of four sitting justices ruled that the conviction conflicted with New Hampshire laws protecting individuals’ religious practices. The bench says, “Although we recognize that the application of the compelling interest balancing test may present practical challenges, we cannot “justif[y] the denial of constitutional rights simply because the protection of those rights require[s] special effort.”
The ruling comes as a decision on the case of Jeremy D. Mack of Colebrook, NH, who had joined the Oratory of Mystical Sacraments church where he could consume psychedelic mushrooms as a religious sacrament. The church represents a Native American religious group.
“After joining the church, the defendant was issued a membership card specifying that he ‘met the standard of being a sincere member of the Native American Church,’ which qualified him to grow and use mushrooms as a religious sacrament in accordance with the church’s rules,” the ruling narrates. New Hampshire state police arrested Mack in 2017, and he was later indicted and convicted “on one count of possession” of psilocybin mushrooms.
Jeremy Mack had pleaded that the state constitution asserts his rights to practice his religion freely. His argument in appealing to the state supreme court was based on the grounds that his actions have not disturbed the peace, nor was he consuming the sacrament around children.
In a 22-page ruling, the judges referred to Part I, Article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution of 1784. It reads, “Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience and reason … provided he doth not disturb the public peace or disturb others in their religious worship.”
While the ruling favours the rights of the individual to consume psychedelic mushrooms as a religious sacrament, the ruling doesn’t imply that consuming psilocybin is inherently a protected religious act.
The Supreme Court justice also quoted the 1896 ruling, “The framers of our State Constitution expressly provided that these ‘rights of conscience could not be … surrendered; nor could society or government have any claim or right to assume to take them away, or to interfere or intermeddle with them, except so far as to protect society against any acts or demonstrations of one sect or persuasion which might tend to disturb the public peace, or affect the rights of others.’”
Additional information here.
Jeremy Mack’s Statement:
I wanted to share some words with the members of the church. I was awarded a major victory for religious freedom in the state of NH. As a member of the church, and through my spiritual practice, I partake in mushrooms as a sacrament. Do to circumstances beyond my control, I had the pleasure of the local authorities coming to my home, it was a friendly encounter. I was not present physically at the time but was on the phone with them. My sacraments were found and removed.
I voluntarily went to the police and conducted an interview where I explained the legal battles the church had gone through, showed them the church and card, had legal print out ready and highlighted. Months later I was charged with drug possession. During my trial I was convicted and had a minor sentence with no jail time. During the trial I remember bringing up NH’s constitutional right to religious freedom to practice whatever on private land if it does not disturb the peace. The judge ordered all talk and record of the 5th amendment of NH’s constitution stricken and not to be mentioned again.
Feeling that this was wrong I wanted to appeal this decision. In the past I have called out politicians and universities for ignoring laws in CT so why not NH? My case went to the NH Supreme court where it was found that the state violated my religious freedoms and did not weigh the states interest against violating those rights when it prosecuted me.
This only solidifies that I am on the right path and will continue my spiritual practice. I hope no one must go through the legal battle I went through but if you do; may my struggles, be your clear path.
Sitting Bear (Jeremy)