San Francisco just joined neighboring Oakland and dozens of other US cities in decriminalizing the possession and use of natural psychedelics.

Earlier this week, the city Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a new psychedelics decriminalization resolution. The measure instructs local law enforcement and court officials to de-prioritize arrests and prosecution of adults for psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline, or any other plant-based entheogen. City officials are also being asked to “instruct” state and federal lobbyists to advocate for psychedelics reform in California as well as the entire US.

“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,” the resolution explained. “The use of Entheogenic Plants [has] 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.”

Over a dozen US cities have passed similar measures that instruct local cops to make arresting people for psychedelics their lowest priority. Denver used this tactic to effectively decriminalize psilocybin shrooms in 2019, and Oakland decriminalized all plant-based entheogens a month later. Since then, Decriminalize Nature, the activist group who helped advocate for San Francisco’s decriminalization ordinance, has also helped inspire Seattle, Ann Arbor, Santa Cruz, and other cities to adopt similar measures. 

“I am proud to work with Decrim Nature to put San Francisco on record in support of the decriminalization of psychedelics and entheogens,” said city Supervisor Dean Preston, co-sponsor of the measure, Marijuana Moment reported. “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.”

San Francisco’s new resolution officially “urges law enforcement agencies that the investigation and arrest of individuals involved with the adult use of Entheogenic Plants on the Federal Schedule 1 List be amongst the lowest priority for the City.” Local cops are also asked to de-prioritize the arrest of adults who plant, cultivate, purchase, or distribute these natural psychedelics. Finally, the Board directs the city not to use any of its resources to prosecute individuals for using entheogens.

But although the resolution “urges” police to back down on psychedelics enforcement, it does not actually change the city’s drug laws. The city’s existing penalties for possessing and using psychedelics remain on the books, so cops still technically have the authority to continue arresting people for shrooms. Police departments in Oakland and other cities that have adopted similar de-prioritization ordinances have so far respected these decriminalization efforts, though. 

California almost had a shot at decriminalizing psychedelics on a state level this year, but conservative lawmakers managed to shut it down. So far, Oregon is the only state that has fully embraced psychedelic reform, having legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin and decriminalized all minor drug possession in 2020. Lawmakers in New Hampshire, Kansas, New York, Massachusetts and Vermont have also proposed assorted psychedelics reform bills, but none of these efforts has yet to succeed.

Cover image via