San Pedro cactus

It's not the spikes on these prickly plants you have to watch out for, they also contain mescaline, a strong hallucinogen. San Pedro cacti are increasingly being sold for botanical purposes, but these are more than decorative houseplants.

San Pedro cactus

Some hallucinogenic cacti

What is the San Pedro cactus?

The San Pedro cactus, also known as Trichocereus pachanoi, is a fast-growing cactus that grows in Peru and Ecuador, where it has been used in rituals for 3000 years. It contains mescaline which is a strong hallucinogen. The cacti is usually dried and cut into edible ‘buttons’ that are eaten to induce a trip similar to LSD.

What are the effects of the San Pedro cactus?

  • It can create a dream-like stance with visions and distortions of sound and scale.
  • The experience is similar to LSD, but longer lasting and more physical.
  • The trip can last up to 12 hours and the user is usually in a deep trance, completely detached from the world throughout.

What are the risks of the San Pedro cactus?

  • It is common to vomit shortly after ingesting the plant.
  • Psychedelics can trigger underlying mental health problems.
  • Hallucinogens can induce upsetting and frightening experiences you can’t stop and have to ride out.

The San Pedro cactus and the law:

Mescaline is illegal in the UK and is listed as a class A drug. However, San Pedro cacti can be bought and sold legally if not intended for human consumption. Legal high providers usually write “not for human consumption” on the packet as a way of dodging the law.

If you are planning on taking San Pedro cactus:

  • As with any hallucinogenic, take it in an environment where you feel safe to diminish the chances of having a bad trip.
  • Avoid taking it if you have any mental health issues or a history of mental illness in your family.

Photo of San Pedro cacti by Forest and Kim Starr

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015