Where Are Magic Mushrooms Legal | More States May Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms
decriminalize magic mushrooms laws Psilocybin-containing mushrooms grow abundantly across all of the continents of the world, aside from Antarctica. But, despite the growing evidence of their beneficial effects, they are mostly illegal—but times are changing. Magic mushrooms may not be legal, but more places are beginning to rethink their policy approach to psychedelic fungi
“Much of the world is now operating under an ‘ask, don’t tell’ decriminalization model, especially across South and Central America,” says James Bunn, a freelance consultant who works with charity Drug Science and psychedelic lobbying groups. “Canada is slowly moving towards a legal medical model, while US states and cities are decriminalizing,” with Oregon legalizing regulated psilocybin sessions.
Developments are happening apace, he adds. “The Caribbean island chain St Vincent and the Grenadines is poised to be the epicenter of psychedelic innovation. They recognize this new industrious market. They have implemented a quick and reactive regulatory framework for the psychedelic industry to flourish. In 2022, they fully legalized the production, sale, and transport of all naturally occurring psychedelics—though companies will have to work with a small group of state-favored firms.”
Where Are Magic Mushrooms Legal (USA)?
Psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, is still a federally controlled Schedule I drug. Schedule I classification means that, in the eyes of federal regulation, psilocybin mushrooms have no medically accepted use and carry a high potential for abuse. But FDA-approved trials for the designated breakthrough therapy continue apace for use in major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression, and psilocybin may be available through doctor’s prescription by 2025. And it’s worth mentioning: it is not an offense for magic mushrooms to grow on your land; it would be impossible to preclude the natural process.
A flurry of local and state initiatives providing layers of either protection or non-prosecution for psilocybin consumers are underway—in part thanks to the direct democracy framework enjoyed in certain parts of the US. Beginning in 2023, magic mushrooms are legal in only one state, with some important caveats.
In 2023, Oregon will allow legal guided sessions with psilocybin and magic mushrooms—the first state in the country to do so. California, New York, and Washington are considering following suit in some form, and several others are decriminalizing after a dozen cities and counties did so to some degree. In November, Colorado will vote on a ballot measure that would legalize regulated therapy and dispensaries while decriminalizing personal use and possession of some psychedelics.
“The legal status of psilocybin in North America is changing almost every day,” says Bunn. “Decriminalization initiatives are having increasing success, but the only state that has partially legalized is Oregon.” In 2020, the state legalized guided psilocybin experiences via the “Psilocybin Services Act,” which allows adults to partake in psilocybin at licensed centers with a trained facilitator. It will start, Bunn predicts, “in the safest possible way and then I think things will loosen.”
“US decriminalization laws have often been framed in terms of access for therapeutic or medicinal purposes, or in some cases for spiritual or religious uses,” explains Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst at Transform Drug Policy Foundation. “Law reform has focused considerably less on recreational use or non-medical use even though as a proportion of all psychedelics consumed it is the overwhelming majority, so there is still some distance to travel in terms of the criminalization of recreational psychedelic users.”
There are a number of avenues for reform, adds Bunn—whether through ballot initiatives, state and municipal reform, or federal changes to legislation and funding—while a small number of dispensaries, some more visible than others, are opening mostly online in places which have decriminalized. “They’re operating on a ‘let’s see if we get caught’ gray area,” says Bunn. “They’re not legally able to do it but if no one enforces the law, is it a law at all?”
Cities that have legalize magic mushrooms
Most psychedelic decriminalization initiatives are taking place on the city level, where city councils have the power to make requests of local law enforcement. In some cases, like in Detroit, city residents have the chance to vote via ballot initiative. Here is the status of magic mushroom decriminalization in the United States, city by city:
San Francisco, CA
In September of 2022, news outlets reported that San Francisco city council unanimously decriminalized psychedelics, including magic mushrooms. That said, it’s not that simple. The resolution “urges” the city’s law enforcement organizations to make the “cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing” psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline-bearing cacti “amongst the lowest law enforcement priority for the city.” That said, as of this time, it’s unclear where the the District Attorney’s office, Sheriff’s Office, and Police Department stand on it. In general, it’s important to be critical when looking at resolutions that have “decriminalized” to see how much teeth they have in their jurisdictions.
In May 2019, the city of Denver in Colorado became the first across the US to decriminalize magic mushrooms via Initiated Ordinance 301, a ballot vote after the requisite amount of signatures had been reached. Arrests and prosecutions were already rare, but the move provided further comfort to psychonauts and served as a bellwether moment for the country, providing inspiration for activists elsewhere to further measures to liberalize the laws prohibiting the use of entheogenic fungi.
Read: Inside the “Psychedelic Exceptionalism Debate
In June of 2019, shortly after the Denver vote, Oakland city council unanimously and widely decriminalized magic mushrooms and other psychedelics such as peyote, ayahuasca, and iboga following campaigning by Decriminalize Nature Oakland.
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz soon followed suit on January 28, 2020, when the city council unanimously voted to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi, making them the lowest priority for local law enforcement and stipulating that councilors will not provide funding or use city resources toward the arrests or investigations related to naturally occurring entheogens for adults 21 and older.
Washington DC also passed a measure to decriminalize shrooms and other psychedelics in November 2020 via DC Initiative 81. The initiative passed with 76 percent of the vote and was backed by Decriminalize Nature DC with financial contributions from David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Soaps. Like other decriminalization initiatives, natural psychedelics are to remain among law enforcement’s lowest priorities.
In October of 2021, the Seattle city council unanimously passed a resolution to make “the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities” among the city’s “lowest enforcement priorities.” Decriminalize Nature Seattle lobbied the city council for the changes. It became the largest city to decriminalize psychedelics.
On the other side of the country, Detroit also passed a similar measure in November of 2021, with 61 percent of voters approving ballot Proposal E. The proposal decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi, making them among the lowest priorities for law enforcement.
Magic mushroom decriminalization can also happen at the county level in the United States, where county prosecutors hold the power to decide whether or not local courts will bring psilocybin offenses to trial. However, at the time of writing, only one county has officially decriminalized magic mushrooms.
Washtenaw County, MI
The city council of Ann Arbor, Michigan—Washtenaw County’s largest city unanimously passed a resolution to decriminalize the non-commercial use and cultivation of entheogenic plants and fungi in September 2020.
The police department said it was already a low priority, and the county Prosecutor’s Office later issued a directive saying related offenses—apart from driving while tripping—were its lowest priority. “It is the policy of the Prosecutor’s Office not to prosecute entheogenic plant use, growth, and possession across Washtenaw County,” it said.
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