Berkeley, California lawmakers are poised to take up a resolution to scale back psychedelics enforcement on Tuesday—a local development that comes as the state legislature also considers broader legislation to legalize the possession and facilitation of substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca.
The Berkeley City Council agenda lists the psychedelics measure for this week’s meeting, with an unanimous “positive recommendation to approve” from the Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community Committee.
The chair of that panel, Councilmember Sophie Hahn, is sponsoring the resolution. The committee voted to advance the proposal—which would call on police to deprioritize enforcement of laws against all entheogenic substances, excluding peyote-derived mescaline—to a full Council vote after taking testimony in May.
The resolution notes that several California municipalities—such as Oakland and Santa Cruz—have already moved to enact local psychedelics reform. Now Berkeley is positioned to take a similar step, as SFGate first reported.
It adds that “there are criminal justice concerns associated with investigating, arresting, and incarcerating people for personal use of entheogens/psychedelics, and it is important to balance criminal justice concerns with public health concerns when crafting just and responsible policy.”
The measure on the agenda would make it the official policy of the city for local law enforcement to “de-emphasize the use of City funds and resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the possession of plant- or fungus biosynthesized psychedelic drugs for personal use and for the cultivation, processing, and preparation of psychedelic-drug-containing plants and fungi for personal use.”
Under the proposal, gifting, distributing, selling or administering the psychedelics would not be authorized.
“The City of Berkeley declares its support for a transparent, comprehensive public conversation about the potential to open access to psychedelic drugs in ways that might be safe, beneficial, ethical, and equitable, and urges the California State Legislature to take part in this conversation and consider passing legislation that addresses the relevant issues,” the resolution adds.
The measure that’s advancing has been modified from an earlier psychedelics reform proposal approved by the Berkeley Community Health Commission.
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The resolution doesn’t explicitly reference SB 58, a bill from Sen. Scott Wiener (D) that passed the state Senate and is advancing at the committee level in the Assembly.
Wiener said last month that the proposal is up against a “challenging road” toward passage, especially because it was surprisingly referred to another Assembly committee that he hasn’t had a chance to comprehensively engage.
SB 58 would legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation of” specific amounts of psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for personal or facilitated use.