The psychedelics boom is certainly underway, with the biggest individual city yet joining in on it. With Seattle now on board, the landscape of magic mushroom use in the US has inched up further, which may just lead the way to a national legalization, at least medically. So what’s the deal with Seattle, and how exactly did the city decriminalize magic mushrooms?
With Seattle as the latest city to decriminalize magic mushrooms, the world of psychedelics is expanding out further. And this on top of the massive progress of the cannabis industry! A few years ago, the only thing to smoke was standard weed. These days, compounds like delta-8 THC, delta 10, THCV, HHC, THCP, THC-O and even hemp-derived THC are flying off shelves, and giving users that many more options. We’ve got great deals for you to check out for all kinds of hemp-derived cannabis compounds including, so take a look at our ever-evolving catalogue – The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter – and pick your perfect product.
On Sunday, October 4th, the city council of Seattle unanimously voted to decriminalize psilocybin, the active component of magic mushrooms, as well as other plant-derived psychedelics like ayahuasca. This decriminalization applies to non-commercial use, although no decriminalization measure technically applies to commercial use, as this requires an actual legalization.
The new measure in Seattle to decriminalize magic mushrooms means that arrests and prosecutions for possession and use of these compounds, has been lowered in priority for police, though the substances still technically remain illegal. Seattle became the largest independent city to decriminalize these drugs, when the vote was made. As of right now, all substances to be decriminalized by Seattle, are still Schedule I on the DEA’s Controlled Substances list.
At least part of the reason this measure came up at all, is because magic mushrooms, and other plant-based psychedelics, are actually used for spiritual purposes. This was clearly not the only reason though, as council member Andrew Lewis stated: “These nonaddictive natural substances have real potential in clinical and therapeutic settings to make a really significant difference in people’s lives… This resolution really sets the stage as the first significant action in the state of Washington to move this policy forward.”
Lewis went even further, telling Bloomberg of the decision in Seattle to decriminalize magic mushrooms, “There’s a huge demonstrated potential for these substances to provide cutting-edge treatments for substance abuse, recovery from brain injuries and other issues… I want to make sure we’re following the science in our policies around regulating these substances.”
Is it legally binding?
Unfortunately not, which means in actuality, Seattle didn’t decriminalize magic mushrooms. Seattle’s vote is considered a non-binding resolution, which means it was voted on and adopted, but cannot become an actual law. This means, it’s really not a law, but only a general recommendation, something that should be taken into account. The resolution states: “the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest law enforcement priorities.”
It also goes on to state that “full decriminalization of these activities” is supported by the council. While this is all fine and good, and certainly a step in the right direction, I personally wonder if the lack of a legal resolution could end up creating issues, particularly if some law enforcement do not feel the same way. How that will actually go down remains to be seen, as there is no legal directive actually stopping law enforcement from continuing as they were.
Some council members saw this aspect of the decision in Seattle to decriminalize magic mushrooms as an issue as well, like Kshama Sawant. Councilwoman Sawant stated, “I am a little confused by this resolution… We have not pushed for resolutions in place of ordinances where it is possible, realistic, and necessary from a political and moral standpoint for the council to have an ordinance passed. I fail to see what the plausible reasons are for councilmembers who claim to support this issue to let an ordinance which takes concrete action sit in the city’s computers unintroduced, and instead push a resolution which only has the power to make requests.”
What other places have legalized magic mushrooms?
Magic mushrooms, and psychedelics in general, have gotten much main stream attention of late, following in the foot steps of the cannabis industry, which itself has gone from demonized, to pretty well accepted, in the last decade. When Seattle passed its decriminalization measure, it became only the latest of many locations to do so. It joins Denver, the first city to make such a law three years ago (May 2019), and Oakland (psilocybin and peyote) and Santa Cruz in California which also set measures that same year and the next.
Ann Arbor, Michigan was next, decriminalizing entheogenic plants or plant compounds also in 2020, followed by Washington DC, which decriminalized all psychedelics that are plant and fungus based in 2020. January 2021 started with Washtenaw County, Michigan following DC’s lead, with Somerville, Massachusetts decriminalizing entheogenic plants including mushrooms and ibogaine later that month. In February of this year Cambridge, Massachusetts decriminalized, followed by Northampton, Massachusetts in April. This October, not only did Seattle join the ranks, but Arcata, California, and Easthampton, Massachusetts did as well. Most of these have an actual legal basis, whereas Seattle does not.
And then there’s Oregon. In November of 2020, Oregon included two ballot measures called Measure 109, and Measure 110 which worked to decriminalize psilocybin state-wide (along with other drugs), as well as legalizing its medicinal use. This made Oregon the first state to allow for the legalization of psilocybin (or any psychedelic outside of esketamine which was passed federally), in any capacity. The initiative had qualified to be on the ballot by May 26th of 2020, and officially passed on November 3rd, when the measure was voted on by the public during the general elections.
Are all psychedelics illegal federally?
Nope, although most people might not realize this. Not only has a compound like DXM (dextromethorphan) been in products like cough syrups since 1958 – the entire reason behind the term ‘robotripping’, but in testing, it has shown very similar characteristics to psilocybin from magic mushrooms. I can honestly say from my own personal experiences, that the only positive benefit to being sick when I was younger, was using Nyquil for that awesome cough syrup high. Somehow or other, despite all other psychedelics being illegal, DXM slipped through the cracks years ago, becoming one of the most widely used psychedelics in America, with literally no requirement for over-the-counter purchases.
For those unfamiliar with the name ‘DXM’, it’s a dissociative drug of the morphinan class. Morphinans are generally naturally occurring components like morphine and codeine, but includes chemical derivatives as well like DXM. DXM doesn’t bind to opioid receptors like other morphinans, which sets it apart from the rest of the class. Instead, its mechanisms of action include being a nonselective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and a sigma-1 receptor agonist among other functions. In low doses it makes a person feel pretty good. In high doses it acts as a dissociative hallucinogen.
DXM isn’t the only federally legal psychedelic. Ketamine and esketamine make the cut as well. Ketamine is only approved for certain medical uses, particularly as an anesthetic. However, its close cousin esketamine, was approved in 2019 as the first non-monoamine anti-depressant, for use medically. This was updated the following year when it was cleared for use with suicidal thoughts as well, something that requires an incredibly quick action from a drug, which esketamine is known for.
While esketamine therapy is becoming more well-known, and even covered by insurance, clinics are taking time to pop up in many locations, and access is still limited. Beyond this, many doctors will never inform patients this is an option, either for their own reasons of confusion over the compound, (likely from years of government smear campaigns), or their general lack of knowledge about the option in general. Even so, esketamine represents the first major step in formally legalizing medical psychedelics, though DXM proves the US government is pretty cool with letting them through if mass amounts of money can be made. Though I couldn’t find specifics on revenue for this specific compound, considering over 100 over-the-counter cold and flu products contain it, I’d say it holds a massive value.
Into the future
One thing to keep in mind, is that the FDA has already awarded ‘breakthrough therapy’ designations to three companies operating in the psychedelics field, and covering two different compounds. This designation is given when a company is doing research that shows a compound to be more beneficial than standard options, for which the FDA agrees and wants to see products get to market. In 2017, the designation was given to the organization MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). MAPS is currently in phase III of it’s studies, which were put together in conjunction with the FDA to ensure that results would meet regulation.
In 2019, this same designation was given to Compass Pathways, and Usona Institute, for their respective studies into psilocybin for major depression. The idea that a US federal agency has awarded this designation repeatedly to compounds in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances list, says quite a bit about the US’s intention to eventually legalize them.
Further to this, other states are also working to push through bigger measures, much like Oregon, or even further. A bill was introduced in Michigan in September 2021, which seeks to legalize recreational psychedelics. SB 631 is currently in the Senate, and has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. California, not to be outdone, has its own plans, hoping to institute a ballot measure in 2022 for the complete legalization of the possession and sale of psylocibin statewide. The California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative would allow a vote by residents in order to pass into law.
Though Seattle’s new policy is certainly lacking in terms of legal backing, it does put a step in the general right direction of loosening the prohibition of psychedelic compounds. Regardless of specifics, it does say something that a city as large as Seattle has now put in a measure to decriminalize magic mushrooms.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.