How to Legally Buy San Pedro Cactus in the United States

A Legal Buying Guide to San Pedro Cactus in 2024

In the captivating world of cacti, one specimen stands out for its unique attributes and the legal complexities surrounding it: the San Pedro Cactus, also known as Trichocereus Pachanoi or Echinopsis Pachanoi. This guide is designed to help you navigate the maze of laws and regulations surrounding the purchase and ownership of this beautiful cactus in the United States, so that you can feel confident and informed in your choices.

Is Buying San Pedro Cactus Illegal?

Let's clear the air: buying a San Pedro Cactus is perfectly legal for ornamental and horticultural purposes in the United States. Whether you desire to enhance your garden, sunroom, or greenhouse, San Pedro can be a legal and aesthetically pleasing addition.

But why the concern? It's because San Pedro along with other Trichocereus cactus contain mescaline, an organic, psychoactive compound. This adds an intriguing layer to the discussion. But rest assured, buying the cactus with the intent to grow it for ornamental purposes is completely legal.

Note: Always consult local regulations, as they may vary by state and jurisdiction.

What is Mescaline?

Mescaline is a naturally-occurring, psychedelic alkaloid found in certain species of cacti, including Peyote, San Pedro, Bolivian Torch, and Peruvian Torch. It is one of the oldest psychedelics in the world, with documented uses dating back close to 6,000 years in Indigenous communities across the Americas. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that it became more widely known in the United States, being incorporated legally by the Native American Church as a part of their religious ceremonies and rituals.

chemical compound of mescaline

Is Mescaline Legal in the United States?

Simply put, no. Mescaline falls under Schedule I, the most restricted classification in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This categorization places it alongside drugs like LSD, and of course the medically or recreationally legal in 40 US states substance of Marijuana or Cannabis, known by the Federal Government for high abuse potential and no accepted medical uses.

The Shifting Legal Landscape: Decriminalization and Legalization of Psychedelics

The legal status of mescaline, along with other psychedelics, is undergoing a transformation in the United States. Some states and municipalities are moving towards decriminalization, and even legalization, of these substances. Here's a closer look at this evolving landscape:

  • Prop 122 in Colorado - In November 2020, voters in Colorado passed Initiative 122, which decriminalized the possession of certain psychedelic plants and fungi, including mescaline-containing cacti like San Pedro. The initiative made Denver the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize these substances, placing them as the lowest law enforcement priority. 
Colorado State Flag
  • Other States and Cities - Following Denver's lead, cities such as Oakland and Santa Cruz in California, along with Washington D.C., have also passed similar measures. Oregon passed Measure 109 in 2020, creating a pathway towards legalizing therapeutic psilocybin-assisted therapy.
  • Mescaline's Status -  While these localized efforts reflect a shift in public opinion and understanding of psychedelics, it's vital to recognize that mescaline remains a Schedule I controlled substance on the federal level.
  • Cannabis: A Parallel Movement - The changing perception of psychedelics draws parallels with the cannabis legalization movement. As with cannabis, the decriminalization and legalization of psychedelics at the state level are inconsistent with federal laws, leading to contradictory challenges.

These contradictions create legal complexities and uncertainties, especially for businesses operating within this space. Federal law takes precedence over state law, which means individuals and businesses could still face federal prosecution even in states where these substances are decriminalized or legalized.

How is San Pedro Cactus Legal if Mescaline is Not?

This is where it gets interesting! San Pedro Cactus legality operates in a bit of a gray area. While containing mescaline, it's legal to buy, sell, or possess the cactus if your intention is ornamental growth. It is only when the intent is to use or distribute San Pedro Cactus for non-ornamental purposes that it becomes illegal. 

Peyote vs. San Pedro

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii), another mescaline-containing cactus, is classified separately as a Schedule I drug in most states and is illegal to possess or cultivate. Unlike San Pedro, which was less known for mescaline extraction, Peyote's inclusion was tied to its popularity and usage, particularly among Indigenous communities. Peyote cactus does suffer from wild-habitat poaching problems and psychedelic medicines experts, such as Michael Pollen, have suggested San Pedro is a more sustainable alternative to peyote based on the size of the cactus and the rate at which it grows relative to peyote.

Peyote Cactus

The Controlled Substances Act Impact

The Controlled Substances Act has far-reaching implications. By limiting the availability of substances like mescaline for research, it hampers efforts to reclassify or remove them from the Act, even if they demonstrate medicinal properties. It also puts a bind on many vendors of San Pedro Cactus from basic business operations such as credit card processing services.

Buying San Pedro Cactus Legally: Your Comprehensive Guide for 2023

  1. Is San Pedro Cactus Legal to Buy? Yes, as long as it is for ornamental purposes.
  2. What's Our Policy? At San Pedro Source, we emphasize responsible plant ownership, focusing on ornamental use only. Discussion of non-ornamental use can result in order cancellation and potential bans from our shop.
  3. Where Can You Display It? San Pedro thrives outdoors, indoors with grow lights, or in a greenhouse.
  4. Mescaline and Legalities: Purchase with the right intention, focusing on ornamental value.
  5. A Brief Look at Legislation: While statewide legislation looks promising for change the federal status remains the same, creating a catch-22 situation for non-ornamental usage in states that have legalized usage. 
  6. The Path Forward: Enjoy San Pedro's aesthetic appeal, staying well within legal boundaries and advocate for change at a local level, one step at a time.


The legal landscape surrounding the San Pedro Cactus is a fascinating journey through history, culture, and regulation. By understanding the nuances, you can enjoy this magnificent plant in full compliance with the law.

At San Pedro Source, we're here to support your exploration of this remarkable plant, always emphasizing responsible and fulfilling ownership. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned cactus collector, we're committed to being your trusted and resourceful guide in the world of San Pedro Cactus.


*Please note that the information provided in this article is not legal or medical advice. Always consult with legal professionals and local regulations for your specific situation.*



Title 21 - Food and Drugs:;jsessionid=2C85B8DEBFB1BB15A7D31E29A34C3DAA?req=granuleid%3AUSC-prelim-title21&saved=%7CZ3JhbnVsZWlkOlVTQy1wcmVsaW0tdGl0bGUyMS1zZWN0aW9uODAx%7C%7C%7C0%7Cfalse%7Cprelim&edition=prelim

Department of Justice/DEA on Peyote and Mescaline:

 UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics:

Legal Status of Non-Peyote Mescaline Containing Cacti:

Ballotpedia on Colorado's Prop 122:,_Decriminalization_and_Regulated_Access_Program_for_Certain_Psychedelic_Plants_and_Fungi_Initiative_(2022)