Your Legal Right to Ayahuasca in Canada

The CSV Mission

Health Canada Application

How Ayahuasca was Criminalized  in Canada

CSV Legal Counsel

Allan Finney

Lawsuit Details, Use of Funds

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You Have a Legal Right to Take Ayahuasca in Canada

This right is defined in Canada as a religious right, but you can call it what you like – a religious right or a human right. The relevant fact is that Canadian law says that you can legally take ayahuasca in this country. Those are the rules.

My name is Allan Finney and over the last four years I have been actively working on establishing legal ayahuasca centers in Canada based on traditional Amazonian ayahuasca ceremonies.

The big stumbling block has been trying to get permission from Health Canada through an exemption application.

The Companionship of the Sacred Vine (CSV), submitted an application for exemption based on sacred Shipibo (Amazonian) cosmology well over two years ago. You can download the submission.

And I know the idea of a church may not sit well with some people but you can call it a church or a center. The fact of the matter is the rules are in place and we can establish Amazonian ayahuasca centers in Canada using the existing rules.

As mentioned, we applied for an exemption over two years ago. At this time Health Canada is not even replying to our inquiries and hasn’t done so for quite some time. However, ignoring us doesn’t mean we’re going away  – Health Canada is required by law to make a decision in this matter.

And, again by law, they are supposed to make a prompt decision – see Supreme Court of Canada decision:  Law Society of Saskatchewan v. Abrametz (below).  Over the past two years, we have answered all the questions posed to us by Health Canada and we have been more than patient in our dealings with this federal bureaucracy.

As such, CSV has retained legal counsel to guide us through the process of getting  Health Canada to do its job. Paul Daly is one of the top Human Rights and Administrative Law lawyers in Canada. Alyssa Tomkins is a Partner with Gowling, an international law firm with 1,500 lawyers. She is an expert in Constitutional law.

There are two parts to the legal action that we need to prepare for – the Initial Filing and a possible negative decision from Health Canada. Which, given their non-responsiveness, seems more than likely. See USE OF FUNDS below.

And it’s not because we want to pick a legal fight with anyone. We would rather have Health Canada make a ruling and be done with it.

But the time for this nonsense is over. I’ve consulted several Administrative Law lawyers about this and I’ve been informed about the legal precedents. Health Canada has granted religious exemptions to groups in Canada in the past.

And it’s not as if Health Canada can’t make timely decisions. If we were a pharmaceutical company looking for an exemption for research purposes, (under section 56, the same exemption process we’re under) Health Canada would be required by law to render a decision in 60 days.

Our application has been in front of Health Canada for over 840 days – well over two years. The time for this nonsense to end is now. Our goal is to liberate ayahuasca in Canada. I hope you’ll agree and decide to contribute. The time for this is now and we have the right people in place to do it.

Here’s the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that says bureaucracies are supposed to act promptly.

Law Society of Saskatchewan v. Abrametz

In 2022 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that bureaucracies need to act in a timely manner. In the Law Society of Saskatchewan v. Abrametz, 2022 SCC 29 the Supreme Court said:

“Decisions by administrative decision makers need to be rendered promptly. Administrative delay undermines a key purpose for which such decision-making authority was delegated — expeditious and efficient decision-making.”

Despite this Supreme Court of Canada ruling, it has become abundantly clear that Health Canada will not act on our application unless we force them to in federal court. HC is not even responding to our emails. I would phone them, but there’s no public phone number for the exemptions department.

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The CSV Mission

The CSV is a grass-roots organization built by volunteers and CSV Founder Allan Finney. The CSV mission is to establish  legal Amazonian-based ayahuasca centers in every province and territory in Canada.

Allan organized and established the CSV four years ago and subsequently incorporated the CSV as a federal corporation.

He used his AyahuascaCanada  contacts to establish an organizing committee composed of lineage Peruvian Shipibo shamans Noe and Tony Lopez, Reverend Richard Brandl, an ayahuasca facilitator in Ontario, Eira Wiese, a facilitator in Denmark and others.

After establishing the organizing committee, a year was spent getting people to sign up for a membership in the CSV and to write the Health Canada application. It was important to us that we actually had signed-up paid members in the CSV.  This recruiting effort resulted in an initial 170 people signing up for a membership in the CSV.

After the organizational year, CSV submitted the application to Health Canada in January of 2021. Many very knowledgeable people were part of the organizing and application process. The application is based on Shipibo (Amazonian) cosmology. In other words, Amazonian cultural practices.

Since that time, the CSV has been actively responding to Health Canada’s questions. It became quite clear early in the process that Health Canada was doing their best to delay our application, for whatever reason. You can see our original application to Health Canada.

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Health Canada Application

The original CSV application to Health Canada is over 60 pages and details the sacred use of ayahuasca as practiced by the Shipibo Indians of Peru, which is the basis of the CSV religious exemption application. This is a completely transparent process. You can download the entire application – with some personal information and locations excluded.

To see the CSV Application

From the very beginning, we never felt that Health Canada was interested in processing our application. Questions that they asked were ‘dripped’ to us over multiple emails.

Information that could have been easily asked for in one email were spread out over months. Often months would go by before we would be contacted by Health Canada for further information.

At one point I requested written policies and procedures regarding the Health Canada exemption process. Every bureaucracy that serves the public has written policies and procedures. Health Canada simply ignored my emails for this information. Just recently I filed a Freedom of Information request for this information.

In Peru, the Directorate of the National Institute of Culture has declared the knowledge and traditional uses of Ayahuasca as practiced by the native Amazon communities as Cultural Patrimony of the Nation (Resolution Number 836/INC), based on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

They state that the use of Banisteriopsis caapi and Chacruna-Psychotria plants structured around the ayahuasca ritual have “an extraordinary cultural history” with “religious, therapeutic and culturally affirmative” properties. In Peru, ayahuasca is “one of the fundamental pillars of the identity of Amazonian peoples.”

You can download this declaration in its original Spanish.

You can download an English (machine-translated) version of this document.

If there are any Spanish speakers out there who would care to provide me with a better translation, please feel free to contact me.

This is how the Peruvian government classifies Ayahuasca in their country. Ayahuasca is sacred in Peru to the point that the UNESCO-based declaration was made. In Canada, ayahuasca is declared to be illegal. You can decide for yourself which side of the fence you’re on, but I know where I stand in the matter.

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How Ayahuasca was Criminalized in Canada

For an InfoGraph on the Criminalization of Ayahuasca in Canada click here.

Canada is a signatory to the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic substances. When the United Nations added DMT to their list of Schedule 1 drugs, Canada eventually used the UN convention to pass laws making ayahuasca illegal.

However, natural materials containing DMT including ayahuasca are not regulated under any UN convention.

For reference, see the fax sent from Herbert Schaepe, Secretary, International Narcotis Control Board to Mr. Lousberg, head of the Inspectorate for Health Care, Ministry of Public Health in the Netherlands.

You can download this document.

DMT of plant origin is not controlled under the United Nations international drug control system, made up of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the United Nations Convention Against the Illicit Traffic of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, all of which have been signed and ratified by Canada.

This was further corroborated by the International Narcotics Control Board in 2010, which issued a statement confirming that DMT of natural plant origin, including ayahuasca, is not included in the UN bans or under any of the conventions.

Despite this, Canada saw fit to use the UN conventions to make ayahuasca illegal. No reasons were given for this, it simply appeared in the legislation.

As it now stands in Canada, ayahuasca containing DMT, harmalol, or harmaline is illegal under Canadian law. The Office of Controlled Substances has stated that “ayahuasca is considered to be a controlled substance by virtue of Section 2(2) of the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) which states that anything that contains a controlled substance is also a controlled substance.”

Under that leap of logic, almost every plant in Canada is illegal. Most plants contain DMT at some concentration. Which means that your front lawn or your garden is probably illegal.

Ayahuasca analogues containing DMT, harmalol, or harmaline are also illegal. Canada is one of the few countries (together with France, among others) that have included harmalol and harmaline in their drug legislation and not only DMT. This is another bizarre twist in Canada. Neither of these substances is psychoactive.

So who’s getting arrested for this? A facilitator in Canada reported that the Ontario Provincial Police happened to show up at his door when he was hosting an ayahuasca ceremony. He informed the officers that he was hosting a ceremony and asked them if they were going to arrest him for an ayahuasca offence.

They informed the facilitator that they had no protocols for making an arrest for ayahuasca and were there on an unrelated matter.  As such, they were not going to do anything and they promptly left.

So when is a law not a law? When no one arrests you for it. Which makes ayahuasca illegal in theory but not in practice. Maybe that was the intention in the first place.

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Paul Daly

Paul Daly, one of Canada’s top human rights lawyers  has kindly agreed to act as our lead attorney.

Paul’s very impressive legal work has regularly been cited by Canadian courts and administrative tribunals — his award-winning blog, Administrative Law Matters, was the first ever blog cited by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Paul is University Research Chair in Administrative Law & Governance at the University of Ottawa  and a Review Officer for the Environmental Protection Tribunal of Canada.

Previously he was Senior Lecturer in Public Law, University of Cambridge (UK) and before that, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal. He is a Member of the Law Society of Ontario and the Bar of New York.

Paul is also a highly sought-after public speaker and has spoken at a wide variety of academic conferences and professional development and judicial education seminars.

Alyssa Tomkins

Alyssa Tomkins is a Partner at Gowling, Canada and is an expert on constitutional law. Gowling is an international law firm with 1,500 lawyers.

Alyssa has argued cases as lead counsel at all levels of court in Ontario, Canadian Federal Court, the British Columbia Supreme Court and in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Alyssa also taught constitutional and administrative law for ten years at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law as coach of the Laskin Moot Team.

She has dealt with legal issues including  corporate and commercial law, shareholder rights, professional liability, class actions, trusts and real property law, insolvency law, as well as all aspects of constitutional and administrative law.

She is the current vice-chair of The Advocates’ Society Regulatory and Administrative Law Practice Group, as well as a member and former chair of the County of Carleton Law Association technology committee.

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Allan Finney

Allan initially came to the medicine in 2016 with a month-long retreat in Peru. Since that time Allan has made two subsequent month-long trips to Peru for Ayahuasca ceremonies with lineage Shipibo shamans Roger Lopez (now deceased), Noe Lopez and Tony Lopez.

In Peru Allan also sat with other Shipibo-trained shamans including Andres Selame, Paulina Oyarzun, Shaman Mitsu, Boris Galvez, Ida Ramos Huayta and other shamans and apprentices.  To date Allan has participated in over 130 ayahuasca ceremonies.

In Canada, Allan worked with  Shipibo-trained shaman Ino Huini (El Tigre) and assisted in many of his Canadian ceremonies. Allan conducts personal ceremonies and ceremonies for family and friends, but does not conduct public ceremonies.

Allan is an advocate for legal ayahuasca centers in Canada and is active in the Canadian and international ayahuasca communities. His first book on ayahuasca, “Ayahuasca – the Gringo’s Guide,” will be published soon.

Allan started the AyahuascaCanada website six years ago and began producing videos for the Ayahuasca Canada YouTube channel four years ago. The objective of AyahuascaCanada is to assist people new to the medicine.

Allan started organizing the Companionship of the Sacred Vine three years ago when he put together the organizing committee for this federal Canadian corporation. Over two years ago, the application for the CSV was submitted to Health Canada.

Allan’s vision for the CSV is to establish legal ayahuasca centers across Canada based on Amazonian (Shipibo) ayahuasca ceremonies. Most Canadians can’t afford to go to South America for ceremonies, so the only option is to find a center in Canada.

However, most Canadian ceremonies are illegal and difficult to find. This is a huge deterrent for people who will not break the law or who are in public service positions or other situations where a (potential) arrest could impact their ability to provide for themselves.

Allan regularly fields emails through the AyahuascaCanada website for people looking for ceremonies. Many of these emails are from people who could be helped by this medicine but are hesitant to attend ‘underground’ ceremonies.

Allan remains dedicated to the idea that with the right people involved we can establish legal ayahuasca centers in Canada.

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Lawsuit Details, Use of Funds


If contributions exceed our target goal for legal costs, any excess money will go directly to establishing legal ayahuasca centers in Canada. There’s lots of work to be done besides the lawsuit.

The lawsuit – A lawsuit is a complicated beast and preparations for eventualities have to be made. Our estimated “war chest” costs could be up to  $20,000 (CAN).  Under the most favorable outcome, the initial filing may induce Health Canada to make a decision in our favor.  At which point our costs would be $3,000.

However, if Health Canada decides to deny our application, as expected, an appeal would incur a further $17,000 (or more) in legal fees. As such, our goal is to raise $20,000 (CAN) to cover all potential legal costs and eventualities. If we raise more than that or if we incur lesser costs than anticipated, all excess funds will be used to establish ayahuasca centers in Canada.

However, there are no guarantees in a court of law and if the lawsuit went against us, CSV incurs not only our own legal costs but also potentially the Attorney General’s court costs as well (see CSV LIABILITY below).

Initial Filing – The initial filing to force a decision on our application by Health Canada will cost $3,000 (CAN). At that point Health Canada could make a decision in favor of our application and we could get on with things.

Appealing a negative decision – However, Health Canada could also choose to deny our application. We consider this a likely outcome. At which point we would need to appeal this decision. This step would incur more time by our legal team which has estimated those costs at $17,000 (CAN).

CSV Liability – Health Canada will be represented in Federal Court by the Attorney General of Canada. If a negative decision is made in the above actions, the Attorney General of Canada might decide to seek its costs of the proceedings. This would mean that the CSV would also be responsible for the legal costs of the Attorney General.

To prepare for this, Allan Finney is now the only officer of the Sacred Vine Companionship Inc., and would be the only person who would be personally liable for all costs in the matter.

This would include our legal fees from our legal team and the awarded costs of the Attorney General’s legal fees. Allan is willing to undertake this risk.

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There’s three simple direct actions you can take right now to help out.

First thing is to make a contribution, however small. These add up over time and  shows us there actually are people who support this initiative. This is important. It helps keep us motivated.

Second thing is to email the suggested people (below). This is completely free and only takes a minute.

The other thing you can do is to email a link to this web page to your mailing list or post a link to this page on Facebook ayahuasca forums or other social media.

The CSV is a grass-roots organization with about 170 members or so and a mailing list of around 600 people. We need to get this in front of as many people as possible.  Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.

Email the Canadian Health Minister –  anyone, not just Canadians, can send an email to the Canadian Health Minister, Jean-Yves Duclos at je**************@pa**.ca  (suggested wording below).

The Minister’s Office is very aware of this application through our MP’s office. This resulted in the Health Minister’s office issuing a Request for Information, a formal process. This sends a clear message to the bureaucrats that we’re not going to let our application get swept under the rug.

Email your Member of Parliament – If you’re Canadian go to this website and look up your MP’s email address  – and send him an email. Simple. It takes two minutes. Suggested wording (below). Just cut and paste or make up your own wording.

Suggested wording for emails (cut and paste)


Subject – CSV Exemption Application

Dear (Mr. Duclos or your MP)  – I have been following the issue of the Companionship of the Sacred Vine’s application for a legal exemption to serve ayahuasca at their ceremonies.

These exemptions have been granted in the past to various organizations in Canada. So the CSV is not breaking new ground.

However, the application has been in front of Health Canada for over two years now. According to the CSV coordinator, Health Canada is not even responding to his emails at this point. Why is that?

The information page for the CSV is here –

Can you look into this and let me know what’s happening with this application?

I would appreciate it,


These are simple direct actions you can take right now to establish legal, publicly available Amazonian ayahuasca centers in Canada. I would like to thank you for everything you’re able to do.

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About, Contact the CSV

The CSV is a volunteer organization. Everything you see on this website and our application to Health Canada has been the result of the work of our organizing committee and Founder Allan Finney.

The CSV is a grass-roots organization with approximately 270 members. Organizing work for the CSV started over four years ago when Allan began recruiting among his contacts in Peru, Canada and internationally.  Public memberships were opened up three years ago. Over two years ago, the Health Canada application process was initiated.

For detailed information about the CSV see this page.

Please feel free to email or call Allan Finney:

Email Allan Finney
WhatsApp +1  306-924-3040
Ph  +1  619-399-2320