Connect with us


Psychedelics Activists Unveil Measure To Legalize Plant Medicine Healing Ceremonies In Oakland



Psychedelics activists have released a proposed measure to allow Oakland, California residents to use a variety of entheogenic substances in plant medicine healing ceremonies.

Decriminalize Nature (DN), the group behind the ordinance, submitted it last week to Councilmember Noel Gallo (D), who previously sponsored the organization’s now-enacted measure to deprioritize enforcement of laws against certain plants and fungi such as psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca.

Reform advocates began discussing creating a regulatory scheme for the psychedelics shortly after the City Council’s passage of the decriminalization ordinance. At first there was talk of allowing sales, but that is not included in the new proposal.

Instead, it would establish a pilot program to provide legal protections for residents and facilitators to participate in plant-based healing ceremonies.

The group emphasized that it’s concerned about the potential for commercial exploitation of psychedelics, and so this measure was designed to promote community-based treatment from facilitators who would be screened by local leaders with experience providing services to vulnerable populations such as the formerly incarcerated and victims of violence.

“Members of these vulnerable communities are not receiving adequate mental health services in our country, and now with a global pandemic and increasing economic disparities, the situation is worsening,” Carlos Plazola, chair of DN, said in a press release.

“People have been healing from plant-based group ceremonies for centuries,” he said. “The solution we’re offering the city is to bring the ancient wisdom and practices that have enabled communities to heal for centuries, together with modern science and harm reduction techniques that are showing high rates of success of mental health healing in scientific studies, and will cost participants next to nothing.”

Text of the ordinance addresses the growing psychedelics reform movement and the therapeutic potential of entheogenic substances in the treatment of mental health conditions.

It also raises concerns about the way “for-profit corporations are becoming increasingly dominant in the plant based healing and psychedelic medicine spaces.”

That, the measure says, is causing “increasing concern among the compassionate-care community that there is very limited time to protect citizens’ rights to establish their own direct relationship to naturally occurring plant medicines, without corporate intermediaries or obstruction.”

“The purpose of this Chapter is to recognize and protect the unalienable human right to develop a relationship with nature and to safely and responsibly seek to improve community health and well-being through use of Entheogenic Plants without fear of arrest and prosecution, to recognize the importance of community support structures in supporting those with the highest levels of trauma and vulnerability, and to offer legal protections to Facilitators and Participants registered with the Oakland Community Healing Initiative Pilot Program and in compliance with the City of Oakland’s Safe Practice Guidelines and Principles created by this Chapter.”

In addition to creating the community-centered regulatory framework, the ordinance also calls for the establishment of a task force to “evaluate and design…community-serving micro-economic models for engaging in Entheogenic Plant Practices that create opportunities for self-sufficiency in Oakland’s most vulnerable communities and are specific to the City’s unique needs” within a year of the measure’s enactment.

Within two years of enactment, the City Council would be tasked with studying the impact of the pilot program and reporting back on its findings.

In order to become a facilitator for the ceremonies, a person must be 21 or older, live in the city, be recommended by a participating community-based organization and have at least five years of facilitator experience. To participate in the program, a person must be a resident and be recommended by a participating organization.

“Facilitators and Participants shall receive legal defense by the City Attorney’s office upon arrest or commencement of prosecution by any other government agency that arises from, or directly relates to, his or her participation in the OCHI, subject to confirmation by the City that the Facilitator or Participant, as applicable,” the draft ordinance says.

“The requirement to provide legal defense shall not encompass an act or occurrence by a Facilitator or Participant which is outside the scope of, or out of compliance with, the City’s Entheogen Safe Practice Guidelines and Principles. Intentional misconduct during participation in OCHI, such as assault, battery, infliction of distress, and any act which constitutes a crime under City law or is inconsistent with the City’s Safe Practice Guidelines and Principles shall not be considered within the scope of the City’s requirement to provide legal defense to Facilitators and Participants.”

Additionally, the measure contains a section stating that the city “shall encourage research on the safety, therapeutic potential, and healing powers of Entheogenic Plants so long as the research is done in collaboration with, or led by, leadership from within Community-Based Organizations.”

Courtney Barnes, an associate attorney at Vicente Sederberg LLP who is working with DN on the measure, told Marijuana Moment that there’s “never been a more critical period in our lifetime for creating community, expanding human consciousness, and reconnecting and deepening our relationship with nature.”

“This initiative embodies my and Decriminalize Nature’s core belief that humans should have the right to safely and responsibly seek to improve community health and personal well-being through use of entheogenic plants without fear of arrest and prosecution,” she said.

In other psychedelics reform news, activists in Washington, D.C. recently submitted what they believe to be enough signatures to qualify an initiative to decriminalize entheogenic substances for the November ballot.

Oregon officials confirmed this month that voters will see a first-of-its-kind measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes on the state ballot.

Oakland Psychedelics Ordinance by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

FDA Submits New CBD Enforcement Guidance To White House For Review

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


DEA Seeks Contractor Capable Of Burning Four Tons of Marijuana Per Day



The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently reached out for help burning “at least” 1,000 pounds of marijuana per hour for eight hours straight.

Every year, DEA seizes millions of marijuana plants and literal tons of raw cannabis, which eventually end up being destroyed. The successful contractor in Arizona would be responsible for burning marijuana and other controlled substances seized as evidence in drug cases “to a point where there are no detectable levels, as measured by standard analytical methods, of byproduct from the destruction process.”

“DEA shall inspect the incinerator to ensure no drug residue remains,” the agency said.

DEA posted the work description earlier this month in what’s called a “sources sought notice,” an initial step before a formal request for proposals is sent.

“This is not a request for proposals and does not obligate the Government to award a contract,” the post says. “The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is conducting market research, and is encouraging all businesses, including small businesses, to respond to this notice.”

An accompanying statement of work gives a behind-the-scenes look at the DEA’s process of destroying seized drugs. Typical boxes weigh between 40 and 60 pounds, for example, but can weigh up to 200 pounds. Contraband might come in on “semi-trucks, tractor trailers, cargo vans, fork lifts, etc.,” the work description says.

“The drugs are usually tightly compressed ‘bricks’ or ‘bales,’” it continues, and are packaged in all sorts of materials: cardboard, wrapping paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, packing tape, “duct tape and derivatives,” plastic evidence bags, “grease/oil” and others. Contractors will be expected to burn that stuff, too.

To avoid potential contact highs, there must be ”proper ventilation” and “no smoke buildup” will be allowed. Other mandates include closed-circuit cameras that capture the entire process, which DEA reserves the right to access, as well as background checks and regular drug tests of all personnel.

Armed DEA agents and contractors will be present during scheduled burns.

The work is also very hush-hush, so whoever gets the job shouldn’t expect to regale friends with stories of the latest large-scale federal weed burning sesh.

“The contractor and its personnel shall hold all information obtained under the DEA contract in the strictest confidence,” the work description says. “All information obtained shall be used only for performing this contract and shall not be divulged nor made known in any manner except as necessary to perform this contract.”

The work would start January 1 of next year and the contract would expire in 2026 unless terminated sooner. The deadline to send information for would-be contractors was Friday.

DEA Seized More Marijuana Plants In 2019, But Arrests Fell

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading


Harris Will Give Biden ‘Honest’ Input On Legalizing Marijuana And Other Issues As Part Of ‘Deal’



Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris says she has a “deal” with Joe Biden to candidly share her perspective on a range of progressive policies he currently opposes, including legalizing marijuana. Separately, she also recently discussed cannabis reform in a private meeting with rapper Killer Mike.

During an interview on 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday, the senator was pressed on marijuana and numerous other issues where she and Biden disagree. In response, while she didn’t specifically commit to proactively advocating for comprehensive cannabis reform, she pledged in general that she would always share her views with the would-be president if the pair are elected next week.

“What I will do—and I promise you this and this is what Joe wants me to do, this was part of our deal—I will always share with him my lived experience as it relates to any issue that we confront,” she said after the interviewer listed cannabis legalization among a handful of issues on which she and Biden depart. “I promised Joe that I will give him that perspective and always be honest with him.”

Asked whether that perspective will be “socialist” and “progressive,” Harris laughed and said “no.”

“It is the perspective of a woman who grew up a black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, who also has a mother who arrived here at the age of 19 from India, who also, you know, likes hip hop,” she said.

The senator’s taste in music also came up during her own 2020 presidential bid, when she said in an interview that she listened to Snoop Dogg and Tupac while smoking marijuana during college despite graduating before those artists released their debut albums.

Music culture has played a key role in this election cycle, and one of the strongest voices for criminal justice reform in the industry is Killer Mike, who worked as a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. The artist said he met with Harris on Friday and the two discussed cannabis business opportunities for communities of color.

As she’s done repeatedly since joining Biden’s campaign, Harris also reiterated at a rally in Pontiac, Michigan on Sunday that the administration would pursue marijuana decriminalization and expunging prior cannabis convictions.

She made similar comments during a campaign event in Atlanta last week, stating that the “war on drugs was, by every measure, a failure, and black men were hit the hardest.” That said, while the senator has come to embrace broad cannabis reform, she’s faced criticism over her past opposition to legalization and role in prosecuting people for marijuana offenses as a California prosecutor.

In another interview released last week, Harris said she and Biden “have a commitment to decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the records of people who have been convicted of marijuana offenses.”

“When you look at the awful war on drugs and the disproportionate impact it had on black men and creating then criminal records that have deprived people of access to jobs and housing and basic benefits,” she said.

There’s been some frustration among cannabis reform advocates that Harris has scaled back her reform push since joining the Democratic ticket as Biden’s running mate. During her own run for the presidential nomination, she called for comprehensive marijuana legalization but has in recent weeks focused her comments on the more modest reforms of decriminalization and expungement.

Harris, who is the lead Senate sponsor of a bill to federally deschedule marijuana, said last month that a Biden administration would not be “half-steppin’” cannabis reform or pursuing “incrementalism,” but that’s exactly how advocates would define simple decriminalization.

In any case, the senator has repeatedly discussed cannabis decriminalization on the trail. She similarly said during a vice presidential debate earlier this month that she and Biden “will decriminalize marijuana and we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana.”

In addition to those policies, Biden backs modestly rescheduling the drug under federal law, letting states set their own policies and legalizing medical cannabis.

Musician John Legend Endorses Drug Decriminalization Ballot Measure In Oregon

Photo element courtesy of California Attorney General’s Office.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading


GOP Tennessee Senator Calls For Medical Marijuana Legalization In New Campaign Ad



A Tennessee senator touted his support for legalizing medical marijuana in a campaign ad released on Friday.

In the 30-second spot, which has notably high production value for this kind of local race, state Sen. Steve Dickerson (R) talks about both the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and the consequences of broader marijuana criminalization.

“As your state senator, I’ve led the fight to legalize medical marijuana so our veterans and sickest Tennesseans can deal with chronic pain,” he said. “But this same life-saving plant has led to mass incarceration, with nonviolent marijuana possession resulting in lengthy prison sentences.”

“I think that’s wrong. That’s why I’ve been pushing for criminal justice reform,” the senator added.

Dickerson, who sponsored a medical cannabis legalization bill that cleared a Senate committee in March, said in a Q&A published earlier this month that the policy change would be among his top three legislative priorities if he’s reelected.

His Democratic opponent, former Oak Hill Mayor Heidi Campbell, is in favor of “fully legalizing marijuana,” with her campaign site stating that cannabis crimes “disproportionately impact people of color and it’s time to end marijuana prohibition.”

But while Dickerson has earned a reputation as a moderate Republican given his positions on issues like cannabis reform, he’s faced backlash after declining to denounce an independent ad taken out on his behalf that some, including the LGBTQ rights organization Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), called racist.

The ad, which was paid for by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s (R) political action committee MCPAC, hits Campbell over her support for a nonprofit organization that is designed to keep young people out of prison, and it frames the group as “radical” and “extremist.” TEP rescinded their endorsement of Dickerson over his refusal to condemn the ad.

In the Tennessee legislature, marijuana reform has yet to pass—but there’s growing recognition that voters are in favor of the policy change. For example, former House Speaker Glen Casada (R) released the results of a constituent survey last year that showed 73 percent of those in his district back medical cannabis legalization.

Another former GOP House speaker, Beth Harwell, highlighted her support for the reform proposal during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018, and she referenced President Trump’s stated support for medical marijuana on the campaign trail.

In other Tennessee drug policy politics, a lawmaker in June blocked a resolution to honor murdered teen Ashanti Posey because she was allegedly involved in a low-level cannabis sale the day she was killed.

New York Will Legalize Marijuana ‘Soon’ To Aid Economic Recovery From COVID, Governor Cuomo Says

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!