Seattle Becomes the Next US City to Decriminalize Psychedelics
By Jordan Gertje on October 7, 2021
The Seattle City Council approved the Resolution 32021 on Monday, October 4th, that decriminalized noncommercial activities with psychedelic substances such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine, and non-peyote-derived mescaline.
The legislation, which was passed by a unanimously 9-0 city council vote, states that “investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest enforcement priorities,” and that the police department “move toward the formal codification and adoption of that practice as departmental policy.”
The groundbreaking legislation expands on Seattle’s existing policy of not arresting or prosecuting anyone for personal drug possession, allowing for the growing and sharing of psychedelic plants and fungi for “religious, spiritual, healing, or personal growth practices.” It further states that the council intends to “determine what changes would be necessary to protect those who cultivate entheogens from arrest or prosecution” and to implement such changes through a subsequent ordinance.
According to a press release from Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis’s office, “entheogens, commonly known as psychedelics, have been shown to benefit the well-being of individuals suffering from depression, severe anxiety, problematic substance use, post-traumatic stress, end-of-life anxiety, grief, and intergenerational trauma.” Touching on the state of the community, he added, “These and other physical and mental conditions are plaguing many communities, which have been further demonstrated to be exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.”
Prior to the vote, Councilmember Andrew Lewis introduced the resolution and advocated for it. “These nonaddictive natural substances have real potential in clinical and therapeutic settings to make a really significant difference in people’s lives,” he said. “This resolution really sets the stage as the first significant action in the state of Washington to move this policy forward.”
Denver became the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019. A number of states and towns have followed suit, and activists are optimistic that reform will be made at the federal level now that a new administration has taken office. Oregon recently decriminalized all drugs and legalized psilocybin therapy, while Washington, D.C. recently decriminalized a wide range of psychedelics.