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San Francisco Joins the Ranks with A Psychedelics Decriminalization

San Francisco psychedelics decriminalization
Written by Sarah Friedman

California’s statewide ballot to legalize entheogenic plants has bit the dust for this election season, but not all is lost in the state. In contrast to the dying measure, San Francisco pulled away and joined the growing number of individual locations with a psychedelics decriminalization for the city.

San Francisco and its recent psychedelics decriminalization makes it the fourth city in California to pass such a measure. Want the best news on cannabis and psychedelics? Well, you’re in the right place. This publication focuses on breaking news and ongoing stories in these exciting and growing fields, along with the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for regular updates to your email, and a range of awesome offers on products. Pick from vapes, smoking devices, edibles, other paraphernalia, and cannabinoid compounds including the super-popular Delta 8 & HHC. All deals are in our ‘best of’ lists, so head over, and choose the products you’re most happy to use.

What’ the news?

In another showing of a location totally up for change, on the night of September 6th, 2022, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution for a psychedelics decriminalization. The measure includes a number of entheogenic (psychoactive) plants like magic mushrooms, DMT, and ibogaine, among others. According to the wording of the document, this encompasses the “full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials that can inspire personal and spiritual well-being.”

The resolution doesn’t stop with possession and use, but includes “planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with” such plants, as well. It also comes with no possession limits for these plants.

Supervisors Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen sponsored the bill, which asks law enforcement to consider those using entheogenic plants as the lowest priority for punishment, including not spending resources on them in the criminal justice system. Though the resolution does nothing for outside of San Francisco, it does call on the state and federal governments to do likewise.

Psychedelics decriminalization
Psychedelics decriminalization

One thing to remember, this resolution passed by San Francisco for a psychedelics decriminalization is not an amendment to the state’s constitution, meaning these compounds remain in Schedule I both in the state’s Controlled Substances list and federally. As of yet, the police department in the city doesn’t have its own policy for entheogenic plants, meaning the resolution doesn’t have to be met. We’ve seen this in other places like Seattle, where the resolution is non-binding as well, meaning its technically only a request to law enforcement to implement these measures, and not an actual directive.

In fact, in order for it to become official policy, the San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott and the city’s new district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, would have to institute an official measure. This is not necessarily expected as Jenkins has made a point of encouraging stricter enforcement of drug policy, not lessening it.

Part of the purpose of the resolution is to help those using the plants for medical purposes. To that end it includes research that elucidates the possible ability of these plants to assist with ailments such as mental health issues, addiction, trauma, headaches and diabetes.

It states, “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.” Then it states how these plants can be useful “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.”

In a statement to the press, Dean Preston stated, “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.”

Other locations that have already decriminalized entheogenic plants in some way, include other California locations like Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Arcata, as well as Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and Detroit, Michigan; Washington, DC; Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, Massachusetts; and Seattle, Washington. And let’s not forget, Oregon legalized recreational use of magic mushrooms in the 2020 elections, but with specific usage guidelines only.

Vote for psychedelics decriminalization
Vote for psychedelics decriminalization

And the California bill?

The San Francisco psychedelics decriminalization comes right after a larger statewide setback. Sen. Scott Wiener sponsored SB 519 which would have legalized both the possession and use of small amounts of psychedelics including LSD, ketamine (which is legal through a loophole), and MDMA. In edits, the bill was changed entirely in form, dropping any legalization, and becoming a bill for a study into these drugs, and nothing more. As a result, Wiener pulled the bill himself, and said he plans to reintroduce it next year.

It should be noted, that prior to these edits which essentially tanked the original meaning of the bill, the legislation has passed multiple committees in the House, as well as passing the full Senate. So, though it was eventually killed, it did make it pretty far, showing that there was plenty of support for it by legislators.

This isn’t the only setback in California. The state had passed a safe drug consumption site bill (SB 57) in July of this year which was waiting for the governor’s signature. The legislation would’ve provided for locations where drug users could have their drugs tested, use in a safe environment, receive clean needles, and access both emergency services, and help with other social service measures. All without the threat of law enforcement. Though this is a possibly useless answer to the growing opioid epidemic, it is a measure to help those in need, within a growing issue still allowed to proliferate through government regulation.

The governor chose to veto the bill, possibly because of political pressure due to a conceivable run for president. Local governors in the state are claiming they will keep moving forward with such initiatives anyway, including San Francisco. Both the mayor and city attorney have made it clear they will carry on pushing for San Francisco’s use of such sites.

Psychedelics elsewhere in the US

Aside from the locations that have already instituted decriminalization or legalization measures, there are a few other initiatives that are up for a vote, or which didn’t make it this time, but might in the future. There are even some initiates meant to limit psychedelic plant use, like in Oregon.

If that last part sounds weird, because Oregon passed its legalization measure in 2020, it has to do with opt-out measures for specific locations within Oregon. If they want to bar the use of the ballot initiative that legalized mushrooms in the first place, they must hold ballot measures. Oregon has 36 counties, and about 2/3 are asking residents to vote once again. Some are looking to ban the substances made legal, and some are looking to put a hold on the implication of an industry in their locations. As enough Oregonians originally voted yes on the measure to pass it, it will be interesting to see which specific locales vote to re-ban them this time around.

Psychedelic plants
Psychedelic plants

Then there’s Colorado, which is putting it to voters to decide whether they want to decriminalize entheogenic plants, with the exception of Peyote. In November, voters will get to cast their vote on Article 170, the Colorado Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative. The measure defines such plants as natural medicine; decriminalizes their use, possession, cultivation, and transport for those 21 and above; and creates healing centers where these compounds can be legally administered (much like Oregon).

Colorado did something else interesting lately. It became the first state to preemptively legalize MDMA for medical use, with the caveat that the legalization doesn’t mean anything until the US government first legalizes the substance for medical use federally. HB 1344 passed through both sides of the state’s congress so fast it’s mind-blowing, getting a sign-off from the governor within 2.5 months after initial introduction. This is perhaps because MDMA is in Phase III trials for use as a PTSD medication, with the FDA itself helping to push it toward approval.

On a sadder note in the world of psychedelics approvals, Michigan, one of several states looking to initiate a psychedelics legalization law, dropped its attempt to have such a measure on the 2022 ballot. Activist groups behind the initiative say they’re now aiming instead for 2024. The inability to collect enough signatures this time around, was the result of a very short time period to do so, starting March and ending June 1st. The required 340,047 could not be collected in that time, but by putting the vote off for two years, the organizations behind this measure have more time for collection. All signatures already collected are good for 2024 as well.


San Francisco pushing through with a psychedelics legalization is just the next reminder of how quickly psychedelics are coming in and taking over. And though California will not be following suit immediately, it might very well have its own state-wide legalization measure passed next year.

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.