Seattle has become the biggest city in America with an open policy on natural psychedelics. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Seattle City Council yesterday. It states that “the investigation and arrest of those involved in entheogen related activities should be one of The City of Seattle’s lowest enforcement priorities.” It calls upon the Seattle Police Department, to adopt this policy as departmental practice.
This policy is identical to Washington, D.C.’s approved one last November. It applies to any living, fresh, dry, or processed plant, as well as teas and powders that could contain current or analog psychoactive drugs, tryptamines, phenethylamines, or both. It includes “cultivation”, “sharing” and “possession” of these “entheogens.” This policy is similar to the one approved by Washington, D.C. voters last November.
Seattle joined several U.S. cities to support tolerance for psychedelic drug use. Denver voters approved a landmark initiative, which made adult possession and use of psychedelic substances the city’s highest priority law enforcement. It also prohibited the public from using any money for such cases. Similar laws were enacted by Santa Cruz (California), Oakland (California) and Ann Arbor (Michigan).
Oregon’s voters took a step further by passing an initiative on the ballot that would have allowed for state-licensed “psilocybin services centers.” These facilities will allow adults to legally use the drug after they complete a preparation session. According to the initiative, regulators are not required to diagnose or treat a client with any medical condition. [of]having psilocybin-related services. In November, another Oregon initiative was approved that decriminalized possession at low levels of drugs including psilocybin.
The resolution from Seattle endorses the “full decriminalization of entheogen-related activities”. However, it does not change state penalties for producing or distributing psychedelics. Washington law still classifies psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and mescaline as Schedule I drugs. This means they are prohibited for all purposes.
Last February, the Washington Supreme Court effectively decriminalized simple drug possession by overturning a law that made possession a felony without any evidence of intent or knowledge. A new law was approved by the legislature that contained a mens-rea requirement. This law made simple possession of controlled substances a Class C felony, with maximum penalties of up to five years and $10,000 in fines, and changed it to a Class A felony that can be punished by up to five year imprisonment. It also created a new law that included a mens rea requirement.
These provisions will expire July 1, 2023. Washington is now back to normal after the ruling by the State Supreme Court. Marijuana MomentThe expiration date, according to reports, is intended to get lawmakers back at the table to discuss a way forward. In February, a bill was introduced that would abolish penalties for having “personally used amounts” of controlled substances. This includes psychedelics.
Andrew Lewis from Seattle Council, the person who presented the psychedelic resolution said, in a press release, “It’s a long overdue discussion to decriminalize these natural substances that are not addictive.” This resolution confirms that law enforcement officers have other important tasks than to arrest individuals for possessing entheogens.
According to the press release, “entheogens (commonly known as psychedelics) have been proven to improve the well-being individuals who suffer from severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and end-of life anxiety, grief, or intergenerational trauma.” The press release states that these and other conditions affect many people and are further compounded by COVID-19.
This resolution doesn’t apply only to individuals with psychiatric diagnoses, even though it uses medicalized terminology. This applies to noncommercial production “for use as part of religious, spiritual or healing practices” and would apply in any other situation as long as the supplier has an explicitly serious purpose. It is illegal to use psychedelics for pleasure, even in Seattle.