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To Whom It May Concern:
For the past seven years, I have been the lead attorney for the American branch of the Unigo do Vegetal (UDV) church, fighting to establish the principle that religious freedom extends to the controlled and responsible religious use of entheogenic plants. That struggle is not over, but the recent unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court upholding a preliminary injunction has allowed the UDV to resume its worship, and the Court's reasoning in that decision gives us firm grounds for optimism about the final disposition.
We have had one great advantage over the government: a group of distinguished experts, who not only offered convincing testimony but helped the legal team find and interpret documents, develop cross-examination questions, and even assist in the drafting of briefs. As a result, the lawyers representing the UDV really knew what we were talking about. By contrast, the government's legal work was riddled with technical errors about pharmacology, religion, illicit commerce, and even the law. That advantage allowed us to overcome our greatest obstacle: the deference the courts usually accord to the technical conclusions reached by government agencies.
Of the key experts who provided essential testimony in court, several were prominently associated with the Council on Spiritual Practices. CSP was also responsible for a symposium at the 2001 College on Problems of Drug Dependence entitled, "Hallucinogens and Religion," which put on the scientific record essential material we relied on in our legal arguments. Additionally, an amicus brief of the Council on Spiritual Practices for the Supreme Court, prepared under Bob Jesse's leadership, undoubtedly helped our case. Bob found four distinguished authorities on religion to join CSP as amici on that brief, and he prompted the writing of another brief for the Supreme Court in which six experts in pharmacology served as amici.
Without the aid of CSP and its friends we would have had a much more difficult road to travel. CSP helped us, and the cause of religious liberty. If you are in a position to help them, I hope you will.
Very truly yours,
/s/ Nancy Hollander
Original letter PDF
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