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Portland Activists Begin Gathering Signatures For Psychedelics Decriminalization Measure

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Activists in Portland, Oregon have officially started collecting signatures for a measure to locally decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca.

The proposed ballot initiative, which was submitted in October, would prohibit the use of city funds to assist in the enforcement of laws against personal possession and cultivation of entheogenic plants and fungi.

The initiative stipulates that Portland cannot adopt any laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, cultivation or distribution of these substances for personal use.

Decriminalize Nature Portland, the group behind the campaign, needs to collect 37,638 valid signatures from voters in order to qualify for the ballot. Holly Sullivan, a volunteer coordinator for the group, told Marijuana Moment that their plan is to gather more than the needed total by the deadline of July 6 using “a combination of diligent volunteers and full-time paid organizers.”

“The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re looking to expand our forces and our team in order to mobilize and inspire,” she said. “We’re so grateful to the people of Portland for getting us this far on 100 percent people power.”

Part of the reason the group is able to get started with signature gathering is because after submitting their ballot title for approval, there were no challenges to the language, which could have caused a delay. A city auditor confirmed that to Decriminalize Nature Portland earlier this month and said they were cleared to submit cover and signature sheets for approval.

Now the group is seeking volunteers to pick up the sheets, get training and help in the signature gathering process.

In an email blast on Friday, they invited people to help organize and collect the signatures. “We need your help!” the group wrote. “Let’s do this people.”

Via Decriminalize Nature Portland.

Portland is one of about 100 cities across the U.S. where psychedelics decriminalization is being considered, with activists at varying stages as they coordinate with the national Decriminalize Nature organization.

Organizers from other Oregon municipalities—including Eugene, Springfield, Roseburg and Detroit— gathered last month at a conference focused on bringing the decriminalization movement to their towns. “After a walking meditation and integration session, everyone got down to business discussing organizational strategies, canvassing techniques, and initiative drafting in three breakout tables,” says the email blast from the Portland group.

Interest in reforming psychedelics policies spiked after Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin, followed by a unanimous City Council vote in Oakland to decriminalize a broader group of entheogenic substances, including ibogaine and mescaline.

There are also statewide efforts underway, with organizers in Oregon in the process of collecting signatures for a measure to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. Another campaign is working to decriminalize possession of all drugs and increase funding for substance misuse treatment in the state. And in California, activists are hoping to put the question of legalizing psilocybin mushrooms before voters in 2020.

While there’s been far less talk about psychedelics at the national level, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said at a town hall event earlier this month that she’s supportive of the grassroots movement to decriminalize the substances and that she plans to reintroduce legislation focusing on psychedelics research.

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang similarly said he supports loosening federal restrictions on psychedelics to better explore their medical potential.

Andrew Yang Wants To Make Psychedelic Mushrooms ‘More Freely Available’

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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Politics

Trump Says Marijuana Makes People “Lose IQ Points” In Secret Recording

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President Trump could be heard saying that using marijuana makes people “lose IQ points” in a secretly recorded conversation released on Saturday.

“In Colorado they have more accidents,” the president said in the clip captured by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal that led to the president’s impeachment. “It does cause an IQ problem.”

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Photo courtesy of YouTube/White House.

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Austin Police Chief Says Marijuana Arrests Will Continue Despite City Council Vote

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Chief Brian Manley said he would continue to enforce marijuana laws the day after the city council unanimously approved stopping arrests and tickets for low-level cases.

By , The Texas Tribune

The day after the Austin City Council approved a resolution to stop arresting or ticketing people for most low-level marijuana possession offenses, the police chief made clear he had no plans to do so.

“[Marijuana] is still illegal, and we will still enforce marijuana law if we come across people smoking in the community,” Chief Brian Manley said during a news conference Friday afternoon.

Though cracking down on those in possession of small amounts of marijuana has never been a priority for the department, he said, police will continue to either issue tickets under the city’s “cite-and-release” policy or arrest people if officers “come across it.”

The difference, according to City Council member and resolution sponsor Greg Casar, is that the council’s move now guarantees those actions will come with no penalty. Tickets will be meaningless pieces of paper and any arrests will result in a quick release with no charges accepted from prosecutors, he told The Texas Tribune after the news conference.

“What has changed since yesterday is that enforcement, almost in virtually all cases, is now handing someone a piece of paper with no penalty or no court date,” Casar said.

The move by the City Council came as a direct result from Texas’ new hemp law which complicated marijuana prosecution across the state. Last summer, when lawmakers legalized hemp, they also changed the definition of marijuana from cannabis to cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant.

Many prosecutors, including those in Austin’s Travis County, now won’t accept pot cases based on look and smell alone, requiring lab testing to determine THC levels before accepting a case. Such testing is not yet available in public crime labs, though some counties and cities have spent money to obtain test results from private labs.

The council’s resolution prohibited using city funds or personnel to conduct such testing in non-felony marijuana cases. It also directed the elimination, to the furthest extent possible, of arrests or citations for cannabis possession. As Manley also noted, the resolution clarifies it can’t technically decriminalize marijuana, since that is state law.

The resolution gave the city manager until May 1 to report back to the council on how police were trained in this new resolution, and Casar said he hopes Manley reviews his policies before then.

Manley said in the news conference that he would continue to review the resolution, as well as police policies.

But, he assured, “a City Council does not have the authority to tell a police department not to enforce a state law.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Austin City Council Approves Measure To End Most Marijuana Arrests

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Andrew Yang Wants To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Military Veterans

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Andrew Yang says he wants to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for military veterans to help them combat mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

During a town hall event at an Iowa college on Thursday, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether he would take initiative and allow veterans to access medical marijuana if elected. Yang replied he “will be so excited to be that commander-in-chief” that he would not only end federal cannabis prohibition but would go one step further by legalizing the psychedelic fungus for veterans as well.

“We need to get marijuana off of the Controlled Substances Act and legalize it at the federal level, make it freely available,” he said. “I say this because I’ve talked to hundreds of veterans and other Americans who benefit from marijuana as a pain relief treatment, and it’s much less deadly than the opiates that many, many people are using for the same conditions.”

“I’ve talked to veterans who’ve also benefited from psilocybin mushrooms,” he added. “They said it was the only thing that actually has helped combat their PTSD. I’m for legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for veterans as well. Pretty much if it’s going to help a veteran, we should make it easier, not harder, for them to get access to it.”

Yang’s drug policy reform platform is unique in that respect. While the majority of Democratic candidates support marijuana legalization, he’s pushed unique proposals such as decriminalizing possession of opioids and making psilocybin mushrooms “more freely available” for therapeutic purposes. The candidate also wants to invest federal funds in safe injection facilities where individuals can use prohibited drugs in a medically supervised environment and receive help getting into treatment.

He hasn’t gone so far as embracing the decriminalization of all drugs, as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has, however.

That said, Yang did signal that he’s open to legalizing and regulating “certain drugs” beyond cannabis, which he argued would disrupt international drug cartels. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) recently said she backs “legalizing and regulating” currently illegal controlled substances to protect public safety and combat the illicit market.

At the Iowa town hall, Yang went on to say that he’s particularly interested in legalizing marijuana, and he again pledged to “pardon everyone who’s in jail for a non-violent marijuana-related offense because they shouldn’t be in jail for something that’s frankly legal in other parts of the country.”

“And I would pardon them all on April 20, 2021, high-five them on the way out of jail and be like, ‘things got a lot better in the last year,'” he said, referencing the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20.

Tom Steyer Calls For Marijuana Legalization And Opioid Decriminalization

Photo element courtesy of Gage Skidmore.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrew_Yang_(48571382196).jpg

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