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Mescaline or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug. It mainly occurs naturally in the peyote cactus and various other species of cactus. Mescaline was first isolated and identified in 1897 by the German Arthur Heffter and first synthesized in 1919 by Ernst Späth.

Peyote has been used for over 3000 years by Native Americans in Mexico. Europeans noted use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies upon early contact, notably by the Huichols in Mexico. Other cacti such as the San Pedro have been used in different regions, from Peru to Ecuador.

The effective human dosage is 300–500 milligrams of pure mescaline. Hallucinations occur at 300–600 mg, which is the equivalent to approximately 9–20 small peyote buttons. The average 3 inch button contains about 25 mg mescaline.

Hallucinations produced by mescaline are somewhat different from those of LSD. Hallucinations are consistent with actual experience, but are typically intensifications of the stimulus properties of objects and sounds. Prominence of color is distinctive, appearing brilliant and intense. Placing a strobing light in front of closed eyelids can produce brilliant visual effects at the peak of the experience.

Recurring visual patterns observed during the mescaline experience include stripes, checkerboards, angular spikes, multicolored dots, and very simple fractals which turn very complex.

Like LSD, mescaline induces distortions of form and kaleidoscopic experiences but which manifest more clearly with eyes closed and under low lighting conditions; however, all of these visual descriptions are purely subjective. And like with LSD, synesthesia can occur especially with the help of music.

An unusual but unique characteristic of mescaline use is the "geometricization" of three-dimensional objects. The object can appear flattened and distorted, similar to the presentation of a Cubist painting.

Mescaline elicits a pattern of sympathetic arousal, with the peripheral nervous system being a major target for this drug. Effects last for up to 12 hours.

Mescaline acts similarly to other psychedelic agents.

In the US it was made illegal in 1970. It was prohibited internationally by the 1971. Mescaline is only legal for certain natives in parts of the USA. States have a right to choose whether peyote use in ceremony is legal.

In the UK, mescaline is a Class A drug (in powder form, although dried cactus can be bought and sold legally, unlike raw "magic" mushrooms, which are now illegal), and so carries the following penalties. For possession: up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both. For dealing: up to life in prison or an unlimited fine or both.

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) famously recounted his use of mescaline in a number of his works including his most famous; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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