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San Francisco decriminalizes psychedelics

Published on September 7, 2022
view of San Francisco seen through the Golden Gate Bridge
I left my ibogaine in San Francisco. (Credit: Larry D Crain/Adobe Stock

Last night, Sept. 6, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave unanimous approval to a resolution that effectively decriminalizes entheogens and their compounds for adult use.

The resolution defines entheogens as the “full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials that can inspire personal and spiritual well-being.” That list includes psilocybin, ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, and more.

The resolution covers a lot of ground. It doesn’t merely decriminalize the possession of entheogens, but also allows “planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with” them as well. It does not provide limits on quantities of entheogens.

The measure notes that “substance abuse, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress symptoms, chronic depression, severe anxiety, end-of-life anxiety, grief, diabetes, cluster headaches, and other conditions are plaguing our community,” and the use of entheogenic plants and fungi have been shown to be beneficial “to the health and well-being of individuals and communities in addressing these afflictions via scientific and clinical studies and within continuing traditional practices, which can catalyze profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth.”

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The resolution makes San Francisco the fourth city in California to decriminalize psychedelics, following Arcata, Oakland, and Santa Cruz. More than a dozen cities across the United States, as well as the entire state of Oregon, have decriminalized either psilocybin or all entheogens.

“I am proud to work with Decrim Nature to put San Francisco on record in support of the decriminalization of psychedelics and entheogens,” Supervisor Dean Preston, one of two sponsors of the resolution, said in a press release obtained by Marijuana Moment. “San Francisco joins a growing list of cities and countries that are taking a fresh look at these plant-based medicines, following science and data, and destigmatizing their use and cultivation. Today’s unanimous vote is an exciting step forward.”

The Board’s vote is also seen as a signal to state legislators in Sacramento, who recently gutted a senate bill (SB 519) that would decriminalize the personal possession of small amounts of psychedelic substances statewide. That bill will likely get reintroduced next year. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Scott Wiener, represents a district in San Francisco. Yesterday’s city resolution urges local lobbyists to work in support of decriminalizing entheogens at the state and federal level.

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Here’s an important caveat regarding the new resolution: Since entheogens remain Schedule 1 controlled substances at both the federal and state level, police and prosecutors can still legally bring charges against a person for possession or sale.

Measures like the one passed by San Francisco can only “urge” law enforcement to make the enforcement of laws around entheogens “amongst the lowest law enforcement priority for the City.” Whether that advice is put into action in the form of official policy will be up to SFPD Chief Bill Scott and the city’s controversial new district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, who has vowed to carry out stricter enforcement of drug laws.

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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