• February 27, 2021

Mass. City Decriminalizes Psychedelics, Urges More Reform

 Mass. City Decriminalizes Psychedelics, Urges More Reform

MIT is a university located in Cambridge, Mass. Photo by Muzammil Soorma

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Following a City Council vote this week, Cambridge has become the latest American city to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics. And lawmakers used the opportunity to push for broader reforms that go beyond the entheogen-focused measures approved in other municipalities across the country and called on police to stop arresting people for possessing or using any illicit drugs.

Local legislators approved the resolution 8-1, making Cambridge the second city in Massachusetts to adopt the psychedelics and drug policy change. The Somerville City Council advanced a similar decriminalization measure last month.

The text of the ordinance states that, like many cities and states across the country, Cambridge has begun to recognize that criminalizing users of substances such as cannabis is neither a just or effective legal approach.

“Drug policy in the United States and the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has historically led to unnecessary penalization, arrest, and incarceration of vulnerable people, particularly people of color and of limited financial means, instead of prioritizing harm-reduction policies that treat drug abuse as an issue of public health,” it continues.

In order to resolve the problem, the measures stipulates that enforcement of laws against possession and cultivation of entheogenic plants and fungi like ayahuasca, ibogaine and psilocybin mushrooms be among the city’s lowest priorities. It also directs the county prosecutor to drop cases related to the possession and use of controlled substances.

“The arrest of adult persons for using or possessing controlled substances shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Cambridge,” it states.

Further, the measure requires the city manager to direct staff that work with the state and federal government to advocate for decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi. It says the city government cannot use funds to “assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of entheogenic plants by adults.”

One council member said during the meeting that while he was skeptical of the proposal when it was introduced, he appreciated that activists brought it forward because it provided an education on the issue, especially “for older people like me.” He said “it made a difference” and it became “very clear” why the policy change was necessary.

This piece is a part of a content sharing arrangement between The News Station and Marijuana Moment.

Kyle Jaeger

Associate editor at Marijuana Moment

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