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A fourth city in Massachusetts passed a policy change on psychedelics, with Easthampton City Council members voting Wednesday in favor of a resolution urging the decriminalization of certain entheogens and other drugs.
The measure, introduced by At-Large Council member Owen Zaret (R), was passed 7-0, with two abstentions, on Wednesday night.
“I am grateful to the Council for being so forward thinking on a cutting edge subject,” Zaret told Marijuana Moment after the vote. âThere were concepts that were difficult for some of us to undo. It is a step forward in helping people access effective therapy and also end unnecessary arrests and incarceration. “
While the resolution is not binding and does not require police to prioritize the enforcement of laws banning psychedelics, as has been the case in other cities in the United States, it represents a first step. important and sends a clear message to local law enforcement that members are ready to break the status quo of criminalization.
It’s not just about psychedelics either. The legislation says the Council “maintains that the use and possession of all controlled substances should be understood first and foremost as a public health problem by departments, agencies, boards, commissions and all city employees.”
Lawmakers too advised that âthe city of Easthampton policy should ensure that the arrest of persons for the use or possession of controlled substances for personal therapeutic purposes for adults, with the exception of Lophophora and controlled substances of animal origin, is one of the lowest law enforcement priorities for the City of Easthampton. “
Zaret told Marijuana Moment in a recent telephone interview that substance abuse is a “public health problem, it is not a criminal problem.”
âWe need to launch a really aggressive campaign to, A) highlight that this is a public health issue and, B) be more aggressive about how we deal with it,â he said. . âThere are many angles to do this,â and psychedelics are one possible solution.
The action comes months after neighboring Northampton City Council passed a resolution saying that no government or police funds should be used to enforce laws criminalizing people who use or possess entheogenic plants and fungi . Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Somerville and Cambridge have also decided to effectively decriminalize psychedelics.
Local measures express support for two bills presented to the state legislature this year. 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.
âThis is a victory for the health and safety of our communities,â said advocacy group Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, which worked with local Massachusetts lawmakers to pass the resolutions, in an Instagram post after the last one. vote. âThese drugs will revolutionize the field of mental health, and it’s a step towards a community model that puts people before profit. This signals to lawmakers in our state that we will not tolerate an overregulated purely clinical model that makes these drugs unaffordable for workers. “
While Massachusetts is proving to be a focal point for psychedelic reform, it is far from the only place activists are gaining traction.
For example, Seattle City Council approved a resolution earlier this month to decriminalize non-commercial activities around a wide range of psychedelics, including growing and sharing psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, d ibogaine and mescaline not derived from peyote.
In Michigan, the Grand Rapids city council last month approved a resolution calling for the decriminalization of a wide range of psychedelics.
Elsewhere 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 lawmakers in Ann Arbor passed this decriminalization resolution last year, the Washtenaw County District Attorney announced that his office would not prosecute charges of possession of entheogenic plants and fungi, “regardless of the amount involved “.
A local proposal to decriminalize various psychedelics will also feature on the November ballot in Detroit.
As local activists pursue decriminalization, two Michigan senators last month introduced legislation to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of a range of plant-derived psychedelics and fungi such as psilocybin. and mescaline.
Marijuana Moment is already following more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters by pledging at least $ 25 / month, access our interactive maps, charts and audience calendar so they don’t miss any development.
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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 and Santa Cruz have already adopted the decriminalization of psychedelics.
Florida’s top Senate Democrat introduced a bill last month that would force the state to research the medical benefits of psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA.
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. At the local level, 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.
Voters in Washington, DC also approved a voting measure last year to deprioritize the enforcement of laws criminalizing psychedelics.
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 Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to largely remove the priority of entheogenic criminalization, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that called for the policy change to be passed statewide and that local jurisdictions be allowed 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.
Meanwhile, activists in Denver who led the successful 2019 campaign to make the city the first in the United States to decriminalize possession of psilocybin have set their sights on broader reform, with plans underway to end the criminalization of non-commercial donation and community use of psychedelics.
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 provisions of separate spending legislation passed by the House also touch on the need to expand research into cannabis and psychedelics. The panel urged NIDA to support expanded studies on marijuana, for example. He further states 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 it was not done in order by the House Rules Committee last month.
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 this month he intends to help bring the movement forward. psychedelics reform at Capitol Hill “this year”.
In May, congressional lawmakers introduced the first-ever law to decriminalize possession of illicit substances at the federal level.
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Photo courtesy of Dick culbert.