The psychedelic healing momentum is on fire worldwide and we are closer and closer to seeing a massive decriminalization of psychedelic plants and fungi across cities in the U.S. Denver made history last May as the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Shortly after, Oakland decriminalized all psychoactive entheogenic plants and fungi. This includes ayahuasca (and other DMT containing plants), peyote, San Pedro (huachuma), ibogaine/iboga and psilocybin mushrooms.
Last week, Santa Cruz, California unanimously passed a decriminalization measure for all psychedelic plants and fungi but took it one step further by adding “cultivation.” The city council recognized that allowing people to grow their own plant medicine discourages black market sales and enables self-healing.
The psychedelic awakening is quickly making headway across the nation. Mostly in thanks to the grassroots movement, Decriminalize Nature. Their mission is “to improve human health and well-being by decriminalizing and expanding access to entheogenic plants and fungi through political and community organizing, education and advocacy.” Decriminalize Nature has nearly 100 cities where initiatives have been considered or are already in motion as outlined in their map below. Notably, Chicago, Dallas, Berkley, Washington D.C. and Portland have advanced decriminalization measures to their city councils.
Back in December, the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC submitted legislation to the DC board of elections. The initiative would make “non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, possessing or engaging in practices with, entheogenic plants and fungi among its lowest law enforcement priorities.”
The D.C. board of elections decided today that the proposal could be placed on the November 2020 ballot. However, it must first endure a 10-day challenge period and then receive a minimum of 25,000 signatures from D.C. voters.
Last October, Chicago took the first steps towards decriminalization by introducing a resolution that would decriminalize all psychedelic plants and fungi. City leaders passed a resolution supporting the expansion of scientific and medicinal research on psychedelics, with a goal of decriminalization. The legislation states, “it shall be the policy of the City of Chicago that investigation and arrest of adult persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds on the Federal Controlled Substances Schedule.” The resolution still needs to proceed through the standard legislation process, requiring community comment and a final vote. Being the third largest city in the US, decriminalization in Chicago could be a huge breakthrough for the movement.
Decriminalize Nature Dallas (DND) plans to file a measure modeled after Oakland’s resolution, adding cannabis to the list of plants covered. DND prefers decriminalization over legalization, encouraging cultivation and not sales. Tristan Seikel, co-founder of DND stated, “That’s something we’ll include in our resolution as well because we don’t want to see sacred medicines just another thing you buy in the smoke shop. That isn’t right…The whole point about having that homegrown aspect is to allow people to develop their own relationship with it and develop it on a more intimate community-based level that isn’t driven by profit.”
In November last year, a measure to decriminalize all psychedelic plants and fungi in Berkley was presented to the Berkeley Community Health Commission (BCHC). The resolution was approved to send to a three-person subcommittee, and they are expected to report their decision to the BCHC sometime early this year.
Portlanders will likely be voting on decriminalizing all psychedelic plants and fungi in the November 2020 election. Since the initiative was approved last year, Decriminalize Nature Portland has been in the process of collecting the 38,000 voter signatures needed by July 6, 2020. The campaign attests, “people have cultural and spiritual relationships with psychedelic plants and mushrooms and we have the right to engage in communion that restores our connection with ourselves, each-other, and the Earth around us.”
The State of Oregon is also working on a 2020 ballot measure that would allow licensed professionals to produce, possess and administer psilocybin for guided therapy sessions. It would also reduce criminal penalties for psilocybin-related offenses statewide.
What’s most exciting about the decriminalization of psychedelics in these cities is the prospect of legalizing medicine cultivation. Legalization can be restrictive as it allows for the corporatization and regulation of nature, creating great financial and licensing barriers which bottleneck supply and access. Hopefully these cities and will all follow in the footsteps of Santa Cruz and allow their residents to cultivate their own medicine, allowing them the opportunity to put their health into their own hands.