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Church that offers psychedelic tea to guests moves to Maine


By Talia Clarke

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    CASCO, Maine (WMTW) — Pachamama Sanctuary is a church that centers around the plant-based psychedelic ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a brewed tea derived from plants grown in the rain forest. Ayahuasca falls within a legal gray in the US. It is illegal except for religious uses. Pachamama Sanctuary refers to ayahuasca as their sacrament and claim there are health benefits including healing trauma.

Ceremonies are held every weekend where guests consume ayahuasca. There are suggested donations for an average of $888 a ticket to attend a ceremony retreat that can last up to 3 days at the Pachamama Sanctuary.

Founding Pastor, Derek Januszewski, claims ayahuasca is not addictive and says there have been no medical emergencies in the 4 years he has led the group.

Pastor Garrett Meuser of Casco Alliance Church, a Christian denomination, argues that sobriety is key when it comes to worship. Meuser admits he doesn’t know a lot about Pachamama Sanctuary that arrived this year. When it comes to their use of a psychedelic drug he says, “Nowhere in the Bible do you see worship taking place using alcohol, drugs, hallucinogens, anything of that nature,” adding, “You can’t worship God if you if you’re not even lucid.”

Pachamama Sanctuary originated in New Hampshire back in 2019. They left the state last year following friction with town officials over concerns about septic systems, smoke alarms and emergency signage. Januszewski paid more than $3,600 to the town in legal costs and would have had to pay an additional $45,000 in fines if he did not shut down immediately.

Januszewski hopes the group can settle in Maine. He says, “I know this one is a little bit further out of the box. And most people are used to, and most people maybe even are comfortable with. And that’s okay. I invite you to have an open mind and do a little bit of research and learn before making a decision of what you decide.”

Januszewski says he is not the first ayahuasca church to come to Maine, claiming there are at least three other churches in the state that practice in small groups.

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