Northampton, Massachusetts has become the latest city to approve a measure that decriminalizes the possession and use of a wide range of psychedelic substances – including psilocybin mushrooms.
Northampton Passes Decriminalization of Entheogenic Plants
Following trends set by local leaders in Cambridge and Somerville, the Northampton City Council voted unanimously in support of decriminalizing natural psychedelic plants and fungi on April 1st, making Northampton the third Massachusetts city to do so in just three months’ time.
The passed resolution fully decriminalizes the “controlled substance possession as well as cultivation and distribution of psychedelic plants,” including psilocybin mushrooms, iboga, and ayahuasca brews. It goes on to ensure that no funds will be used by city police to enforce laws regarding entheogenic plants and fungi.
Ahead of the vote, Ward 7 City Councilor Rachel Maiore—a co-sponsor of the resolution—seemed confident in her approach to the issue. She expressed how she felt the measure was, “really forward-thinking and keeping with the values of the community to really center treatment and harm reduction and see substance use as a public health issue.”
The emphasis on public health is reflected in the first few paragraphs of the resolution. The text states that “public, peer-reviewed medical research” has shown that psychedelic substances have been helpful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic depression, anxiety, grief, and a variety of other issues that plague Northampton.
Massachusetts’ recent surge of heroin and opioid addictions, in addition to severe depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, was highlighted in the document’s “whereas” section, arguing entheogenic plants’ “strong utility” in treating substance abuse and mental illnesses.
“Our earth has given us a mushroom proven to help people work through depression, opioid addiction, tobacco addiction, cluster headaches, alcoholism, trauma, terminal illness anxiety, and possibly even dementia & traumatic brain injuries,” said the Bay Staters for Natural Medicine in a released statement. James Davis, a city-level organizer for the group, focused on the importance of the passed measure through the lens of social justice.
“City by city, our movement for cognitive liberty and racial justice is growing exponentially,” commented Davis. The resolution says that, “the so-called War on Drugs has led to the unnecessary penalization, arrest, and incarceration of vulnerable people, particularly people of color and people of limited financial means, rather than prioritizing harm-reduction policies to treat drug abuse as an issue of public health.”
In addition to ceasing all funds and efforts toward the enforcement of laws criminalizing psychedelics, the measure also calls for an end to all prosecutions of people involved in the use, possession, or distribution of entheogenic plants.
While advocates for psychedelics are celebrating the victory in Northampton, they also set their sights on statewide reform. James Davis commented that, “a supermajority of Massachusetts voters support treating controlled substances as an issue of public health—hopefully more politicians will start listening to the inspiring, psychedelic stories of the people they claim to represent.”
Similar measures are expected to be introduced in Boston in the coming weeks, and two bills were recently proposed by Massachusetts lawmakers. One proposal would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of all drugs, and the other measure would establish a task force to study psychedelics with the hopes of eventual legalization and regulation.
At The Weed Blog, we strive to produce the latest online news resources regarding marijuana. We also review various strains of cannabis or other edible counterparts. We are committed to helping you find valuable information about marijuana on our website. With marijuana laws constantly changing, learn from us what you can do to promote activism in your area. Otherwise, consider these other top-tier articles regarding cannabis: