You are here
Home > News > San Francisco Supervisors Vote to Decriminalize Psychedelics

San Francisco Supervisors Vote to Decriminalize Psychedelics

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a measure that would decriminalize natural psychotropic drugs such as magic mushrooms. This unanimously approved a plan to overhaul city policy regarding the use of these substances to treat serious mental conditions.

The ordinance calls on the San Francisco Police Department to make the enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession, use, cultivation, and transfer of entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca by adults “amongst the lowest priority for the City and County of San Francisco,” according to the text of the proposal. The ordinance also requests that city resources not be used for “any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants listed on the Federally Controlled Substances Schedule 1 list.”

The measure notes that psychedelics “can benefit psychological and physical wellness” and “have been shown to be beneficial” for people dealing with addiction, trauma, and anxiety. California should also reform its laws in order to make natural psychedelic substances legal.

Psychedelics to Improve Mental Health

Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen, supervisors of the San Francisco Department of Health and Welfare introduced the idea in July with support of Decriminalize Natural, which is a non-profit group that aims to abolish the prohibition against entheogenic plants. Noting that the natural drugs have the potential to treat serious mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, grief and end-of-life anxiety, the group said that there “is an unmet need in San Francisco’s communities for the compassionate and effective care that these medicines provide.”

“I am proud to work with Decrim Nature to put San Francisco on record in support of the decriminalization of psychedelics and entheogens,” Preston said in a statement after the measure was approved by the Board of Supervisors on September 6. “San Francisco joins a growing list of cities and countries that are taking a fresh look at these plant-based medicines, following science and data, and destigmatizing their use and cultivation. Today’s unanimous vote is an exciting step forward.”

Preston stated that this measure would align San Francisco’s policy with the current movement to view psychedelics differently after years of criminalization and stigma.

“The law hasn’t evolved at all since then, and these substances are treated the way they always have been,” Preston said. “At the same time, the scientific community has been expanding their study and research into their therapeutic use.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to make the city the nation’s largest municipality to pass a decriminalization law for psychedelics. Denver became the first nation city to legalize psychedelics. Other cities such as Washington, D.C., Oakland, Santa Cruz, California, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Easthampton, Massachusetts, have also adopted similar ordinances. Two years ago, Oregon voters approved groundbreaking legislation that legalized psilocybin therapeutically.

This San Francisco ordinance mirrors the California legislation that was proposed by Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener. It would have legalized psychedelics across California. The legislation was defeated by opposition. It now authorizes only a study.

“While I am extremely disappointed by this result, I am looking to reintroducing this legislation next year and continuing to make the case that it’s time to end the War on Drugs,” Wiener said after the bill was gutted. “Psychedelic drugs, which are not addictive, have incredible promise when it comes to mental health and addiction treatment. We are not giving up.”

Joshua Kappel was the founder Partner and Head of the Entheogens and Emerging Therapies Division of Vicente Sederberg LLP. After the vote, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ordinance.

“This is a great step forward for any city, but it’s surprising it took San Francisco over 3 years after Denver and Oakland decriminalized certain plants and fungi,” Kappel wrote in an email to Chronic News. “Hopefully, this paves the way for meaningful reform at the state level.”