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Home > News > Psychedelics

Seattle Decriminalizes Psilocybin and Other Psychedelics

Published: Oct 05, 2021   
Seattle Decriminalizes Psilocybin and Other Psychedelics

Leo Bear-McGuinness
Science Writer & Editor

The US city of Seattle has become the largest city in the country to decriminalize the use of some psychedelic substances, including psilocybin and mescaline.

But as the legislation’s wording specifically pertains to entheogens, a term to describe plant or fungal material used in religious or spiritual events, it appears manufactured psychedelics such as LSD and MDMA will remain officially prohibited substances in Seattle.

Seattle’s City Council approved the resolution on Monday, October 4.


Spaced out in Seattle

The newly passed resolution states that “the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest law enforcement priorities.”

While Seattle’s police department has practiced a form de-facto drug decriminalization in recent years (many drug users are referred onto a local social care program instead of being arrested), the new legislation enshrines some of these protections into policy.

With the new resolution approved, the city’s police cannot arrest or prosecute people solely for the personal possession of entheogens.

Entheogens are described in the document as “any living, fresh, dried, or processed plant or fungal material, including teas and powders, that may contain currently scheduled or analog psychoactive indolamines […] including, but not limited to, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca tea, mescaline, and iboga.”

Not all psychoactive plants and fungi made the cut, however. Peyote, a cactus usually associated with indigenous Native American rituals, was not included in the list of drugs in the Seattle legislation. This omission was made “due to this special [Native American] history and overharvesting and collapse of peyote gardens in southern Texas, and to the long time required for plants to mature in cultivation.”

In a release following the resolution’s approval, the city council noted some of the benefits of entheogens, writing that the drugs have been shown to boost “the well-being of individuals suffering from depression, severe anxiety, problematic substance use, post-traumatic stress, end-of-life anxiety, grief, and intergenerational trauma.”

Remarking on the new policies, Seattle council-member Andrew J. Lewis stated that, “It is a long overdue conversation to decriminalize these non-addictive natural substances. Our law enforcement officials certainly have more important things to do than arrest people for possession of entheogens, and this resolution affirms that.”


Psychedelic progress across the USA

Seattle is the latest in a growing list of US cities and regions to decriminalize the use and possession of psychedelics.

Last November, Oregon became the first state in the country to decriminalize the possession of psychedelics through a new measure decriminalizing the possession of minor amounts of all currently illegal drugs. At the same time, the state also specifically legalized the use of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.

In the same month, voters in Washington DC approved an initiative that effectively decriminalized the possession of all entheogenic plants and fungi.

In California, the cities of Oakland and Santa Cruz have already enacted psychedelics decriminalization, and a bill to decriminalize psychoactive substances across the state has made significant progress in the state’s legislature.

 

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