The Law: God & Peyote

The art of deciding constitutional questions commonly means weighing competing values. The balance is often delicate, as the California Supreme Court has just shown in answering yes to a weird question: Can a man beat a narcotics rap by pinning it on God?

While performing a religious ceremony in a desert hogan near Needles, Calif., three Navajo Indian members of the Native American Church were arrested for possession of peyote, a non-habit-forming cactus derivative that stimulates visions for those who chew it. Convicted, the Indians carried a novel appeal to the state's highest court....

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