The localized effort comes after the California Senate passed a bill decriminalizing psychedelics last month.
Arcata is poised to become the third California city to decriminalize psychedelics, thanks to the efforts of Decriminalize Nature Humboldt, a Humboldt County-based spinoff of the nationwide education campaign Decriminalize Nature.
The nonprofit recruited Arcata Councilmember Sarah Schaefer to sponsor a measure that would decriminalize within the limits of the Northwestern California city entheogenic plants and fungi, including ibogaine ayahuasca, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocyn.
“This resolution is consistent with the beliefs held by many Arcatans. The decriminalization of entheogenic plants and fungi is an important step away from the war on drugs while expanding opportunities for research on the medicinal benefits of these plants and fungi,” Schaefer said in a news release. “Research shows that these plants have the potential to help overcome anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and so much more‑something that could be enormously beneficial to any community.”
Decriminalization is one step behind legalization. Selling entheogenic plants or fungi remains a felony that could warrant prison time. Decriminalization simply establishes that the investigation or arrest of an individual for cultivating, using, or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi be the lowest priority for law enforcement.
Currently under California law, the cultivation and possession of these substances is considered a misdemeanor. Those found in violation can be subject to a fine and/or face up to a year in prison.
If the resolution passes, Arcata would become the third city in California to decriminalize psychedelics, behind Oakland and Santa Cruz.
Denver, Colorado was the first city to decriminalize psilocybin in May 2019. Since then, three Massachusetts cities—Northampton, Sommerville, and Cambridge—along with Washington, D.C., and Ann Arbor, Michigan, have also decriminalized psilocybin. Other cities including Aspen, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington, are also considering similar legislation.
California, as a whole, is taking steps to free psilocybin after the Senate last month passed a bill decriminalizing ‘shrooms. Texas recently approved studies using psychedelics to treat military veterans with PTSD, and New York is considering establishing an institute to investigate the medicinal properties of psychedelics.
As yet, Oregon remains the only state to have both decriminalized and legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin.