We are working on drug policy reforms that will reintegrate psychedelics (also known as entheogens) back into our communities in an equitable and responsible way. Our particular our efforts are geared towards ensuring that they are administered with care and remain affordable for people to access.
We will achieve this with two main strategies: undoing the harmful and racist policies fueled by the war on drugs, and pushing for safe and responsible regulatory policies that are not overly burdensome and that center equitable access for everyday working class individuals to afford these medicines. We also advocate for regulatory frameworks that primarily promote small business instead of playing into the hands of monopolistic corporate operations. Cannabis reform truly failed when it comes to this issue. The cost of operating a cannabis business in Washington heavily favors corporations with access to large amounts of capital and disadvantages access for local small growers. Despite mostly black and brown people being arrested for marijuana related crimes before legalization, less than 1% of cannabis business in Washington and Oregon are owned by Black people. Cannabis reformers have a long way to go to remediate the harms caused by overly burdensome and expensive regulations. The burgeoning market on psychedelics may face the same fate if we actively mitigate this. Washington and Oregon have a real opportunity to reintegrate psychedelics back into our communities for therapeutic use in ways that are egalitarian and help fuel local small business opportunities in rural and urban areas.
We believe that entheogenic substances have always been and will continue to be of great benefit to humanity – we in the Western world are just re-awakening to their medical, spiritual, therapeutic and personal potentials. The psychedelic renaissance is in full swing, and rescheduling and/ or legalization is on the horizon. If we do nothing to ensure equitable access, then the current powers that be will ensure that the same inequities will play out with regard to regulation and access to these sacred medicines.
Psychedelics are proven to help with many mental health and behavioral health issues.
We acknowledge that current conventional medical treatments are not enough for many people dealing with chronic mental health and substance use issues. Preliminary clinical trial data are showing that treatment resistant depression symptoms were effectively reduced for several months following just one or two treatments with psilocybin. Recent phase 3 clinical data for MDMA for PTSD was recently released in the Nature Medicine journal showing a 67% reduction in PTSD symptoms after just three sessions. There are also studies underway to determine the efficacy of psychedelics with treating substance use disorder (addiction). For the medical reasons alone, we must fight the stigma created by the war on drugs and create pathways to access these alternative psychedelic medicines and their synthetic derivatives for the sake of our community wellbeing.
As a nation we are struggling with the worst epidemic levels of addiction in our history – all exacerbated by the global pandemic. These diseases of despair are issues concerning public health and should never have been treated as crimes in the first place. Another unsavory but true fact is that Drug War policies disproportionately impact people of color, and particularly black people, and are most enforced in under-resourced communities. This is true for both urban and rural areas. Our policies essentially treat people with mental illness, unresolved trauma, or addiction as criminals instead of treating them with compassion and offering resources to help them with their unfortunate circumstances. This is an injustice that we must bring to an end.
Furthermore, natural psychedelic plants and fungi have been utilized safely for thousands of years primarily as part of sacred ceremonial practices of indigenous tribes around the world. The Mazatec of Mexico have used psilocybin for literally thousands of years. Iboga is part of sacred rights of passage in Gabon. Hundreds of tribes utlizize Ayahuasca throughout South America for community wellness and unity. Even in our own backyard, the Huichol and the NAC tribes in the southwest of the US and northern Mexico utilize peyote as their sacrament. Human beings have been in deep relationship to psychedelic plants, and the natural environment, for millenia. This is infact ancient living wisdom and this knowledge and wisdom continues to be stewarded by indigenous communities to the present day.
We believe that humans should have the sovereignty to decide what they put into their bodies. We also believe in protecting religious freedom and many psychedelics (greek for “mind manifesting”) also known as entheogens (meaning “manifesting the divine within”) are simply naturally occurring plants and fungi that grow all around us. Psychedelic fungi literally grow in Washington state, primarily between November and January. Please don’t be silly and pick or eat any mushrooms that you cannot positively identify!
Furthermore these substances were categorized as Schedule 1 without any scientific research to prove that they are harmful or dangerous, as claimed by the DEA. Many substances that are listed as schedule 1 are a direct result of the political climate during the 1960s. The Drug War was created and driven by President Nixon and his administration. Their intent, as revealed by this Harper’s Magazine interview of top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, was to destabilize the Black led Civil Rights movement and target the leaders of the Anti-war counterculture late. Since they could not blatantly arrest people for being black or being anti-war, they relied on an old tactic of criminalizing behaviors most associated with those groups. This is an old racist tactic that started decades before in the late 1890s and early 1900s with the first laws being passed to criminalize possession of opium and cocaine. It is this generations legacy and our responsibility to dismantle the harmful policies that we as a society have suffered with the repercussions of for over a century.
The global drive to prioritize corporate medical models, patents and overly burdensome regulatory hurdles creates disparate access to medical treatment. This is a rampant issue in access to medicine and insurance for millions of Americans. For example, inpatient addiction rehabilitation is often inaccessible due to costs ranging in the of tens of thousands of dollars for 30 to 60 day stays. The current medicalized frameworks are affordable for some well-off people, but remains inaccessible to most working class Americans. We need to create frameworks that ensure access to psychedelics for people who cannot afford to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to access them. Decriminalizing personal use and cultivation will allow many people to be able to safely and reliably acquire and grow these medicines and also hold people accountable. Criminalization deters people from reporting harm done to them because they are also at risk from being charged with a crime. Natural psychedelics can easily be identified as legitimate subtances compared to pills or powders, which require lab testing to verify their contents. Growing your own medicine usually costs less than a $200 to get set up. The underground community safeguarding psychedelics has a strong culture and history of safer use and mentorship. This coupled with a regulatory framework for safer access with trained facilitators is the best way to holistically provide multiple avenues of equitable and responsible access to these medicines. With proper education and best practices in place, these substances can be used by people responsibly and effectively.
The risks and harms are varied and they largely depend on the substance, the amount ingested and the frequency of use. What can be said for certain is that
In the Netherlands psychedelic substances have been legal for personal use for decades – people safely engage with entheogens everyday. When Portugal decriminalized drug consumption in 2001, they saw a remarkable turn around in addiction and positive outcomes when they chose a treatment centered approach versus a prohibition & punishment centered approach.
We are committed to working with civic leaders, community leaders and residents to develop an educational framework and ethics centered on harm reduction and best practices relating to psychedelics. This will ensure all residents will have the opportunity to be well informed. These educational programs will cover:
These trainings will be provided in a culturally relevant way, and will focus on empowering residents from within their community to lead so that the knowledge can be carried forward from within. This model is based on Decriminalize Nature Oakland’s proposed ordinance: OCHI (Oakland Community Healing Initiative).
I’ve really been interested in helping more people design ecological regenerative sustainable micro-industries — small businesses that, in the work of doing that business, help to regenerate the ecosystem. And are also ethical. I found that with mushrooms, and urban gardening and algae cultivation and all that kind of stuff. All things that I feel like would be beneficial and can help people make money — all at the same time, which I think is super-necessary.
William Padilla-Brown — Founder of MycoSymbiotics
We need your help to get our resolution adopted by this fall and to change laws in Seattle to protect individual and community use of psychedelics!