Berkeley, California, is looking like it will join the small but growing number of American cities that have decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms.
Next week, the Berkeley City Council will consider a measure that would forbid city officials, including police, from using city funds or resources to enforce criminal penalties for the possession or use of "entheogenic plants or fungi." That would include not just "magic" mushrooms but also mind-altering cacti, iboga-containing plants, and Ayahuasca.
Possession of these substances is currently punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine under California state law.
Bay Area organization Decriminalize Nature is leading this effort. The group was behind a successful effort to decriminalize entheogenic substances in Oakland in June, making it the second city in the country to adopt such a measure. In May, Denver voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative legalizing psilocybin mushrooms.
"It is time to end the war on entheogenic plants and fungi," reads Decriminalize Nature's website, which argues that ditching criminal penalties for entheogenic substances would help secure an "inalienable human right to develop our own relationship with nature."
Under Berkeley's proposed resolution, police would still be able to enforce criminal penalties against people who are under 21, as well as anyone found to be commercially manufacturing or selling these entheogenic substances.
Marijuana Moment reports that Decriminalize Nature is also working to get a decriminalization measure on California's 2020 state ballot, which the group hopes will "build the framework for eventual legalization."
The group is also reportedly working with activists across the country to advance similar local decriminalization resolutions.
Activists in Oregon are currently collecting signatures for their own, even more ambitious statewide ballot initiative. It would legalize the manufacture and sale of psilocybin products in therapy-like environments.
Berkeley city councilmembers will vote next week on whether to send its decriminalization measure to the Berkeley Community Health Commission for review, after which it would go back to the city council for a final vote.