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Massachusetts City Moves to Decriminalize Natural Psychedelics

Somerville, a city in greater Boston, took a step towards decriminalizing natural psychedelics Thursday, January 14th.

With a unanimous 9-0 vote and the support of the city’s mayor, the city council passed a resolution that makes enforcing laws against the possession or use of “entheogenic natural substances” for adults the lowest priority for the Somerville Police Department. The resolution still needs to be codified into a local ordinance, which Ward Three councilor Ben Ewen-Campen tells Rolling Stone he hopes will be in the next several months

On Twitter, Ward 2 City Councilor JT Scott celebrated the resolution, saying, “Hopefully many more of our colleagues will also sign on tonight to co-sponsor this, and that we can push forward to formalize this policy in ordinance.”

“This is an issue where I just think there is such an enormous gulf between where the science is, where the research is on these substances, honestly where I think public opinion is and where our public policy is,” Ewen-Campen told WBZ News Radio.

The resolution defines “entheogenic natural substances” as “psychedelic plants, fungi and natural materials containing indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines, including psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, cacti and iboga.”

While the resolution makes enforcing psychedelic use among adults a low priority, it does not call for the commercial sale of psychedelics. It also does not authorize possession or distribution near schools, nor driving while under the influence. Additionally, any city-wide decriminalization law would ultimately be superseded by state and federal rules regarding psychedelics.

The Somerville resolution is the latest in a growing movement to decriminalize psychedelics around the country. Last November, Oregon voted to decimalize all drugs, while Washington, D.C. voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. Denver became the first U.S. city decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in 2019, while Oakland followed soon after. Santa Cruz, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan both decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms last year as well.

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