Third Massachusetts City Approves Psychedelics Decriminalization Measure
Another Massachusetts city has approved a measure to deprioritize enforcement of laws against the possession, use and distribution of a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca.
This time, the Northampton City Council passed the resolution, which also states that no government or police funds should be used to enforce laws criminalizing people for using or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi.
The vote on Thursday was unanimous, 8-0, and it makes Northampton the third city in the state to enact the reform. Somerville and Cambridge have also moved to effectively decriminalize psychedelics.
“City by city, our movement for cognitive liberty and racial justice is growing exponentially,” James Davis, a city-level organizer for Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, told Marijuana Moment. “A supermajority of Massachusetts voters support treating controlled substances as an issue of public health—hopefully more politicians will start listening to the inspiring, psychedelic stories of the people they claim to represent.”
Davis said a similar reform resolution is expected to be introduced in Boston “in the next two weeks,” and city councilors in Worcester “are beginning to set up meetings with our coalition.”
The Northampton resolution’s “whereas” section states that studies have demonstrated the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics in the treatment of serious mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression and addiction.
It also says that “the so-called War on Drugs has led to the unnecessary penalization, arrest, and incarceration of vulnerable people, particularly people of color and people of limited financial means, rather than prioritizing harm-reduction policies to treat drug abuse as an issue of public health.”
Further, the measure calls on the Hampshire County District Attorney to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use, possession, or distribution of entheogenic plants and the use or possession without the intent to distribute of any controlled substance.”
This resolution also expresses the Council’s support for two bills recently introduced in the state legislature. One would remove criminal penalties for possession of all currently illicit drugs and the other would establish a task force to study entheogenic substances with the eventual goal of legalizing and regulating the them.
Prior to giving final approval to the psychedelics decriminalization resolution on Thursday, the Council held an initial discussion on the measure last month.
This is the latest victory in a national psychedelics reform movement that’s spread rapidly since Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019.
Besides the cities in Massachusetts, four others—Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor and Washington, D.C.—have also decriminalized possession of plant-and fungi-based psychedelics.
In Oregon, November’s election saw the passage of a historic initiatives to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and more broadly decriminalize possession of all drugs.
In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to broadly deprioritize criminalization of entheogenic substances, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that calls for the policy change to be adopted statewide and for local jurisdictions to be allowed to permit healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics.
After Ann Arbor legislators passed a decriminalization resolution last year, a county prosecutor recently announced that his office will not be pursuing charges over possessing entheogenic plants and fungi—“regardless of the amount at issue.”
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