Denver was the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms – and two and a half years after the reform was approved by voters, a panel established under the initiative is working to capitalize on this success.
The city council’s finance and governance committee looked into the issue in a hearing on Tuesday. Including expand decriminalization to cover donations and community use psychedelic.
Kevin Matthews, who led the 2019 decriminalization effort and is now the founder of Vote Nature in addition to being chairman of the city’s mushroom panel, discussed a report released by the organization that shows, between others, that the policy change has resulted in an almost 50 percent reduction in psilocybin arrests to date.
Hospitals have not reported a spike in entheogen-related cases, and “observational data” indicates that most people use psilocybin for “health and mental wellness reasons.”
In addition to recommending that psilocybin donation and community use be decriminalized, the panel further highlighted the importance of providing training to city and county first responders on how to deal with someone experiencing a psychedelic crisis. .
âYesterday was a great next step,â for the panel, Matthews told Marijuana Moment in a telephone interview on Wednesday. âI think our report was well received. We have had very good feedback from some members of the municipal council. And we still have a lot of work to do.
Other panel members include City Councilor Chris Hinds (D), Denver District Attorney Beth McCann and Denver Police Department Investigative Division Chief Joe Montoya.
The group further recommended creating “co-branded education public service announcements” and a “data collection and reporting system for all law enforcement and emergency interactions involving psilocybin.” .
A theme of Tuesday’s presentation to local lawmakers was simple: The skies didn’t fall after Denver voters decided to make psychedelic one of the city’s lowest enforcement priorities. law. In fact, it sparked a nationwide psychedelic reform movement and allowed activists to identify opportunities to expand the new policy.
While many of the panel’s recommendations can be adopted within the organization itself, proposals such as decriminalizing gifts and community use would require city council legislation. And Hinds has signaled that he could help lead the charge to that end.
“I’m really excited about how Denver was leading our nation” on psychedelic reform, the city councilor said at Tuesday’s meeting. âI’m very interested in continuing to move forward if that makes sense – and based on all of the report’s recommendations, that makes sense to me. “
Panel members also held a press conference shortly after the adjournment of the committee meeting. Among other questions, Matthews was asked about the status of a potential contract between the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the city to launch a one-of-a-kind training initiative for first responders.
MAPS has submitted a statement of work to the city attorney’s office and it is still under review, but the hope is that the organization – which is a national leader in psychedelic research – will be able to train police, paramedics, and other first responders to navigate situations involving psilocybin effectively.
âThe various departments that will be working with MAPS on this training are thrilled,â Matthews told Marijuana Moment. “We hope to launch our pilot by the end of the fourth quarter of this year.”
Since Denver’s first push to end the criminalization of so-called magic mushrooms, there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelic reform at the local, state, and federal levels.
Just last week, voters in Detroit approved a voting initiative to broadly decriminalize psychedelics.
Also in Michigan, the Ann Arbor city council has already chosen to make enforcement of laws banning psychedelics like psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT one of the city’s lowest priorities.
After local lawmakers passed this decriminalization resolution last year, the Washtenaw County District Attorney announced that his office would not pursue charges of possession of entheogenic plants and fungi, “regardless of the amount involved. “.
In September, Grand Rapids City Council approved a resolution supporting the decriminalization of a wide range of psychedelics.
As local activists push to end the criminalization of psychedelics, two state senators have introduced a bill to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of a range of plant-derived psychedelics. and mushrooms like psilocybin and mescaline.
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And last month, lawmakers in Massachusetts’ fourth city, Easthampton, voted in favor of a resolution urging the decriminalization of certain entheogens and other drugs.
The action comes months after neighboring Northampton City Council passed a resolution stating that no government or police funds should be used to enforce laws criminalizing people who use or possess plants and fungi entheogens. Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Somerville and Cambridge have also decided to effectively decriminalize psychedelics.
Local Measures also express support for two bills introduced this year to the Massachusetts state legislature. One would remove criminal penalties for possession of all currently illicit drugs, and the other would establish a working group to study entheogenic substances with the possible goal of legalizing and regulating them.
Separately, Seattle City Council last month approved a resolution to decriminalize non-commercial activities around a wide range of psychedelics, including growing and sharing psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine. and mescaline not derived from peyote.
A bill to legalize psychedelics in California went through the Senate and two Assembly committees this year before being withdrawn by the sponsor to gain more time to generate support from lawmakers. The plan is to resume reform in the second half of next year’s legislative session, and the senator behind the measure is confident it will pass.
California activists have been separately authorized to begin collecting signatures for a landmark initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state. Oakland, Santa Cruz and Arcata have already adopted the decriminalization of psychedelics.
In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to largely remove the priority of criminalizing entheogenic substances, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that calls for passage of the nationwide policy change. ‘State and local jurisdiction authorization to allow healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics. City activists also hope to expand the local decriminalization ordinance by creating a community model through which people could legally purchase entheogenic substances from local producers.
Earlier this year, Texas passed a law directing state officials to study the medical value of psychedelics.
The Connecticut governor signed a bill in June that includes language requiring the state to conduct a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.
Voters in Oregon passed a pair of initiatives last November to legalize psilocybin therapy and decriminalize possession of all drugs. Locally, activists in Portland are pushing for local lawmakers to pass a resolution decriminalizing the cultivation, donation and ceremonial use of a wide range of psychedelics.
The Florida Senate’s top Democrat introduced a bill in September that would require the state to research the medical benefits of psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA.
A New York lawmaker introduced a bill in June that would require the state to establish an institute to similarly research the medical value of psychedelics.
The Maine House of Representatives passed a drug decriminalization bill this year, but he later died in the Senate.
In a setback for defenders, the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted against a proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would have removed an addendum from the spending bill that advocates say restricted federal funding for research on Schedule I drugs, including psychedelics such as psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine. However, it garnered considerably more votes this round than when the MP first introduced it in 2019.
The report’s provisions of separate spending legislation passed by the House also touch on the need to expand research into cannabis and psychedelics. The panel urged the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to support expanded studies on marijuana, for example. He further says that federal health agencies should continue their research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for military veterans suffering from a host of mental health issues.
A Republican congressman tried to add wording to a defense spending bill that would encourage research into psychedelic therapy for active duty military personnel, but this was not brought into compliance by the committee. House rules in September.
NIDA also recently announced that it is funding a study to find out whether psilocybin can help people quit smoking.
A US Department of Veterans Affairs official also told a recent congressional hearing that the agency was “very closely” following research into the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics like MDMA for military veterans.
For what it’s worth, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a longtime champion of marijuana reform in Congress, said last month that he intended to help bring the movement to psychedelics reform on Capitol Hill “this year”.
In May, congressional lawmakers introduced the first-ever law to decriminalize possession of illicit substances at the federal level.
Read the Denver Psilocybin Panel Report and Recommendations below:
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