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San Francisco Supervisors Vote To Decriminalize Psychedelics

San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved last week a measure decriminalizing natural psychedelics like magic mushrooms. It also unanimously supported a city policy reform that allows for the legalization of drugs used in treating serious mental illnesses.

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. The ordinance also encourages California to change its laws regarding natural psychedelic drug decriminalization.

Psychedelics and Mental Health

With the support from Decriminalize nature, an organization working to eliminate the prohibition on entheogenic plants or fungi, Supervisors Hillary Ronen (left) and Dean Preston (right), the proposal was presented in July. 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 said that the San Francisco policy would be in sync with the new movement to see psychedelics as a whole after decades of crime 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 was the country’s first to make psychedelics illegal in 2019. Other states have followed suit, including Washington, D.C., Oakland, Santa Cruz, California, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Easthampton, Massachusetts, Easthampton, Massachusetts, Easthampton, Massachusetts, Easthampton, Massachusetts, Easthampton, Massachusetts, Easthampton, Mass. Two years ago, Oregon voters approved groundbreaking legislation that legalized psilocybin therapeutically.

Similar to the California law, which would have made psychedelics legal in California, the San Francisco ordinance was introduced by Democratic State Senator Scott Wiener. After opposition, the legislation was changed to remove the decriminalization clauses and allow for only the study of these drugs.

“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.”