Psycho·nauts, rejoice! Seattle just joined as the largest amongst an already-growing list of cities spearheading the legalization of psychedelics. The landmark measure extends what is already Seattle city policy not to arrest or prosecute people for personal drug possession to further protect the cultivation and sharing of psychedelic plants and fungi for “religious, spiritual, healing, or personal growth practices.“
Approved by a unanimous 9-0 vote, the City declares “that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among the City of Seattle’s lowest enforcement priorities” and requests the city’s police department “move toward the formal codification and adoption of that practice as departmental policy.”
Let’s break this down… what’s being decriminalized includes, specifically, the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine and non-peyote-derived mescaline. Mixing an ayahuasca plant with a charcruna shrub yields the South American psychoactive brew known for its active chemical base, dimethyltryptamine (DMT). We’re talking some very powerful stuff! It doesn’t apply to LSD, MDMA (ecstcy), or ketamine. But it may signal a more permissive psychedelic future. Cannabis incrementally moved from taboo to the medical mainstream.
Why the move? 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, as one Councilman put it. “These and other physical and mental conditions are plaguing many communities, which have been … exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.”
The resolution was inspired in part by the City Council’s interest in reducing opioid-related deaths, following the results of a local task force’s study into the matter initiated in June. After three months of inquiry and analysis, the task force recommended the city decriminalize psychedelics and, in fact, consider removing criminal penalties around all drugs. Astounding! A stance even too left for me!
So… whether your next “trip” is in cold climate or warm, with friends or with family, indoors or out, consider adding Seattle to your list of would-be, could-be “sets and settings.” At least it won’t end with anyone spending the night in jail… well, not for taking psychedelics… the shenanigans engaged under under their influence, though? Well, that might become a different story.