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Cambridge Decriminalizes Psychedelics

On Wednesday (Feb. 3), Cambridge joined the movement to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi.

Shelby Hartman // Feb. 4, 2021

DoubleBlind is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here. Editorially reviewed by Madison Margolin.

On Wednesday (February 3), Cambridge became the second city in Massachusetts to decriminalize natural psychedelics, such as ibogaine, ayahuasca, and psilocybin mushrooms. Cambridge city council members passed the resolution 8-1.

The measure, modeled after the Decriminalize Nature resolution passed by Oakland’s City Council in 2019, makes possession and cultivation of entheogenic plants and fungi among the lowest law enforcement priorities in the city. It also calls upon the county’s District Attorney not to prosecute anyone for the use, possession or distribution of these plants or fungi.

The measure acknowledges the disproportionate “penalization, arrest, and incarceration of vulnerable people, particularly people of color and of limited financial means” as a result of the War on Drugs, and the legitimate use of entheogenic plants “for centuries by people in different cultures” to improve their mental and socio-emotional health.

The vote shortly follows the decriminalization of natural psychedelics in Somerville, Massachusetts last month. Both of these measures are part of a larger movement, called Decriminalize Nature, which began in Oakland and since has inspired grassroots activists to successfully pass similar measures in Ann Arbor, Washington, D.C., and Santa Cruz.

A wave of decriminalization and legalization measures began in cities, counties, and states in 2019 following the unexpected win of a measure to decriminalize psilocybin in the county of Denver, Colorado. Since then, Decriminalize Nature—which places a focus specifically on naturally-occurring psychedelics—has picked up the most momentum in jurisdictions across the country, but other key measures have passed, too, including a measure which legalized medical psilocybin in Oregon in November. Since then, there’s been movement by state legislators in at least two states—Hawaii and Florida—to introduce similar psilocybin therapy bills.

Shelby Hartman is Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DoubleBlind. Her work has appeared in VICE, Quartz, the Huffington Post, and Rolling Stone, among others. Shelby worked in broadcast news production for CBS News covering presidential elections, protests, natural disasters, and other breaking news. Spurred by a passion for print and investigative reporting, she transitioned to magazine writing, working as an editor at Pasadena Magazine and receiving her Master’s Degree in long-form journalism from Columbia University in 2015. Since then, Shelby has worked as a columnist at LA Weekly and an editor at Herb, the largest cannabis media company, with extensive features on post-traumatic stress disorder in the veteran community, the cannabis industry, the psychedelic research boom, and the popularization of ayahuasca. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
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