Peyote is a small, spineless cactus. The active ingredient in peyote is the hallucinogen mescaline. Street names include Buttons, Cactus, Mesc, and Peyoto-Chips. The top of the peyote cactus is referred to as the “crown” and consists of disc-shaped buttons that are cut off.The fresh or dried buttons are chewed or soaked in water to produce an intoxicating liquid. Peyote buttons may also be ground into a powder that can be placed inside gelatin capsules to be swallowed, or smoked with a leaf material such as cannabis or tobacco.

Use of peyote and mescaline will cause varying degrees of illusions, hallucinations, altered perception of space and time, and altered body image. Users may also experience euphoria, which is sometimes followed by feelings of anxiety. Following the consumption of peyote and mescaline, users may experience intense nausea, vomiting, dilation of the pupils, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, a rise in body temperature that causes heavy perspiration, headaches, muscle weakness, and impaired motor coordination.

Other hallucinogens like LSD, psilocycbin (mushrooms), and PCP cause similar effects. Peyote and mescaline are Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

From earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of their religious rites. Mescaline can be extracted from peyote or produced synthetically.