A number of local governments across the U.S. have implemented laws decriminalizing psilocybin – the naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in “shrooms”. With new efforts underway from a group of Washington state hopefuls — Spokane, WA may be the next city to follow suit.
Activists Work Toward Psilocybin Decriminalization in Spokane
Decriminalize Spokane, a Washington movement working to remove criminal and civil penalties for all entheogenic plants, has unveiled a new initiative aimed at the policing of psilocybin mushrooms.
While the measure wouldn’t legalize possession of the mushroom, it would ban law enforcement from utilizing, “any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use, possession, transportation, cultivation, or distribution of psilocybin mushrooms”
Mason Lord, the chair of Decriminalize Spokane, emphasized that, “this is mostly about safety, and this is acknowledging certain legal substances that are accessible – like alcohol, for one – are far more dangerous.” Regarding the legality of mushroom use in Washington, Lord added, “it’s going to be the same rules as public use of cannabis. You’re not going to be allowed to be out at Riverfront Park with a bag of mushrooms sitting on your blanket.”
Current law states possession of psilocybin mushrooms can lead to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. If the proposed measures are put in place, city law would make possession of up to six ounces of mushroom by adults 21 and up “the city’s lowest possible law enforcement priority.”
Areas of the initiative reference research showing the benefits of the psychedelic drug. Cited material states that, “psilocybin can alleviate end-of-life anxiety for hospice and terminal cancer patients, can reduce prison recidivism, and can effectively treat depression, cluster headaches, addiction and trauma,” and Mason Lord would agree. The Decriminalize Spokane chair suffered from PTSD following a near-fatal car wreck, and he claims that psilocybin mushrooms helped him work through the trauma.
The Next Steps in Decriminalizing Psilocybin
Activists initially submitted the measure to Spokane City Council in February 2021, but local lawmakers chose not to act, meaning it will be vetted by city officials for signature gathering approval. In order to put reform in front of voters, activists must collect approximately 3,500 signatures for the petition.
Mason Lord and the rest of the Decriminalize Spokane movement have already shifted their efforts in that direction. Looking at the work he has in front of him in the fight toward decriminalization, Lord said, “it just extends beyond the potential risk of getting arrested, it’s important for people to be aware that they’re not a criminal when they ingest a Psilocybin mushroom.”
Decriminalize Spokane’s work comes on the heels of similar movements across the United States, with Denver becoming the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms back in 2019. Since then, six other U.S. cities have done the same.
Psychedelic drug reform has also occurred on the state level, with Oregon residents voting through historic initiatives in 2020 to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use, and several states — including Missouri, California, Florida, Washington, and Connecticut — considering similar drug reform measures in the new legislative session.
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