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Berkeley City Council To Vote On Decriminalizing Psychedelics



The Berkeley, California City Council will decide next week whether to advance a resolution to decriminalize psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca.

The development comes two months after the body’s Public Safety Committee unanimously voted to send the measure to a separate commission focused on health. The full Council will either approve or reject that recommendation on Tuesday.

The resolution, which was revised following the earlier committee vote, stipulates that “no department, agency, board, commission, officer or employee of the city, including without limitation, Berkeley Police Department personnel, shall use any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults of at least 21 years of age.”

Entheogenic plants are defined under the measure as “plants and natural sources such as mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and/or extracted combinations of plants similar to ayahuasca; and limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines.”

The original resolution has been revised to include additional context about the state of psychedelics research, remove certain recommendations about using the substances and note that people interested in consuming psychedelics should “consult their doctor beforehand and take the utmost medical precaution when doing so.”

The measure is on the consent calendar for Tuesday, indicating that it will be acted on without much debate. If the Berkeley Community Health Commission later approves the resolution, it will go back to the full City Council for final approval, Reason reported.

Psychedelics are getting significant attention in 2019, with two cities having already voted to decriminalize the substances: first Denver and then Oakland. Decriminalize Nature, the group behind the Oakland resolution that is also leading the effort in Berkeley, said that it’s coordinating with activists around the country to get similar policies enacted.

In Oregon, a campaign to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical purposes is gaining traction as well, though its decision to revise an original initiative to exclude a decriminalization component has created controversy among other reform advocates.

The scientific community is also expressing renewed interest in psychedelics. Johns Hopkins University announced on Wednesday that it is launching the nation’s first-ever research facility dedicated exclusively to exploring the potential benefits of substances like psilocybin.

Johns Hopkins University Announces Nation’s First-Ever Psychedelics Research Center

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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