ARCATA, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2021) – The Arcata City Council unanimously passed a resolution that effectively decriminalized a wide range of psychedelic substances including “magic mushrooms” despite ongoing federal prohibition of the same.
The measure makes enforcement of laws banning the possession of entheogenic substances including psilocybin and ayahuasca among its lowest law enforcement priorities. It also calls on the Humboldt County District Attorney “to consider the spirit and intent of this resolution when evaluating whether to prosecute persons involved in the use of Entheogenic Plants and Fungi.”
The commercial sale and manufacturing of psychedelics will remain illegal and enforceable, along with laws against driving under the influence.
The resolution passed by a 5-0 vote.
Entheogenic substances are typically found in plants, including mushrooms. They can alter perceptions of reality, mood and behavior.
“With decriminalization, Arcata residents will be able to ingest, gift, gather, grow, and share entheogens without fear of arrest,” Decriminalize Nature Humboldt lead organizer Danielle Daniel told Marijuana Moment. “By destigmatizing entheogens, the community will have more openness to conversing about the healing potential of psychoactive plants and fungi.”
Last year, Ann Arbor decriminalized “magic mushrooms.” Oakland, Santa Cruz and Denver have also effectively decriminalized psilocybin – a substance hallucinogenic substance found in certain mushrooms. A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”
A state bill to decriminalize several psychedelic drugs including LSD and “magic mushrooms” passed the California Senate in 2021, but died in the assembly.
Decriminalization and legalization efforts at the state and local level are moving forward despite the federal government’s prohibition of these various substances.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of many of the drugs on SB519’s decriminalization list and heavily regulates others. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
In effect, the passage of this resolution effectively ends criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of these drugs in Arcata. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. Curtailing or ending state or local prohibition, sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with other drugs.