Seattle City Council unanimously supports decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms

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The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously voted in favor of a resolution supporting the decriminalization of psilocybin and other psychedelics.

The resolution, which is nonbonding and serves only as a recommendation to the Seattle Police Department, declares “that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest law enforcement priorities.” The council supports “full decriminalization of these activities.”

Psilocybin, or “shrooms,” is a hallucinogenic drug that falls under the most restrictive Schedule I, which the U.S. federal government defines as “drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

The city council noted that such substances are often used for spiritual purposes, according to their virtual meeting.

“These nonaddictive natural substances have real potential in clinical and therapeutic settings to make a really significant difference in people’s lives,” said council member Andrew Lewis. “This resolution really sets the stage as the first significant action in the state of Washington to move this policy forward.”

“There’s a huge demonstrated potential for these substances to provide cutting-edge treatments for substance abuse, recovery from brain injuries and other issues,” Lewis told Bloomberg. “I want to make sure we’re following the science in our policies around regulating these substances.” 

Lewis’ office noted that drugs such as psilocybin have shown promise for patients who suffer from depression and other mental health problems.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant was not pleased the city council did not make the resolution a binding ordinance.

“I am a little confused by this resolution,” Sawant said, according to local outlet MyNorthwest. “We have not pushed for resolutions in place of ordinances where it is possible, realistic, and necessary from a political and moral standpoint for the council to have an ordinance passed.

“I fail to see what the plausible reasons are for councilmembers who claim to support this issue to let an ordinance which takes concrete action sit in the city’s computers unintroduced, and instead push a resolution which only has the power to make requests,” she added.

Other cities have decriminalized psilocybin, such as Washington, D.C., Denver, and Ann Arbor. Oregon legalized the drug for therapeutic use statewide in 2020.

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