Seattle’s city council has taken a step towards decriminalizing psychedelics as Councilmembers signed a letter on Monday, suggesting that a local overdose task force include entheogens for treating “substance addiction and behavioural mental health conditions”.
Seven out of nine Councilmembers signed the letter sent to the Overdose Emergency and Innovative Recovery (OEIR) Task Force, asking to “add to their work plan an examination of [the] public policy governing psychedelic medicines.” Two members are yet to vote.
Councilmembers Andrew Lewis and Lisa Herbold introduced the letter.
“Their support is a huge step forward as we anticipate Council member Lewis will follow through with submitting our ordinance to decriminalize entheogens in Seattle further ensuring protections to our residents for exchange and engaging with psychedelics,” Decriminalize Nature Seattle says in a release. “This also sets the stage for a statewide campaign in our very near future to end the War on Drugs,” it adds.
Decriminalize Nature Seattle has been actively advocating to decriminalize psychedelics and make them the lowest law enforcement priority in the City of Seattle.
The letter recommends that the OEIR Task Force work with City of Seattle and King County officials, along with the joint Seattle-King County Board and Department of Public Health “on policy related to entheogens.”
A task force of local experts, relevant community leaders and residents impacted by drug use will be brought together by the Public Defender Association and Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County board chair Deunte Damper, Councilmember Herbold told The Stranger.
Lewis told The Stranger that he’s likely to introduce the ordinance for making possession of psychedelics the lowest law enforcement priority. In addition, he will be serving as a member of the task force alongside the “medical researchers and public health professionals.”
The movement to decriminalize psychedelics continues to gain momentum across the United States. Starting with Denver, Colorado in 2019, at least eight cities including Washington D.C. have made entheogens their lowest law enforcement priority since. Three cities in Massachusetts, most recently Northampton, have deregulated psychedelics alongside other drugs in the last six months.
On the state level, Oregon was the first to decriminalize possession of all drugs and legalize psilocybin mushrooms through a ballot initiative during the November elections. Now, California’s psychedelic decriminalization bill is progressing in the state legislature, having recently clearing the Senate floor. The bill is now headed to the Assembly.
Decriminalize Nature, a national advocacy group, has been leading most of these initiatives in cooperation with other grassroots organizations like Bay Staters for Natural Medicines. In a previous interview, Dr. Larry Norris, co-founder of DN told Truffle Report that their team is in the process of introducing resolutions to council members of cities in New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Montana, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington.
Ritika is a Toronto-based reporter. She writes about drug policies and developments in psychedelics.