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As the psychedelic renaissance contributes to a swelling pool of safety and efficacy data pertaining to the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic medicine, many localities—particularly in North America—are revising their legal frameworks.
This is happening in a number of ways: from the least rigorous incarnation which involves making the enforcement of psychedelics’ illegality the lowest law enforcement priority in a given city (such as in Washington, DC), right through to state-wide legalization of specific psychedelics (such as in Oregon).
A number of U.S. cities and states have moved to loosen the consequences for personal use or small, noncommercial amounts of psychedelics. Denver, CO became the first city in May 2019, with two Californian cities—Oakland and Santa Cruz—following suit. Psilocybin and psychedelic drugs are still illegal in those jurisdictions under state law, so it is inaccurate to say it is “decriminalized.” But those local governments have taken steps to deprioritize enforcing criminal penalties there.
The map below seeks to track these initiatives.
Last updated: November 3, 2021.
All states and jurisdictions that have made steps toward drug reform policies with regard to psychedelics are discussed below, ordered alphabetically by state.
Resolutions unanimously passed in the cities of Oakland and Santa Cruz have made personal use and possession of certain psychedelics the lowest law enforcement priority. SB-519, which would have legalized personal use and possession at the state level, was approved by the full Senate after multiple amendments, but failed to win enough support to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and was put on hold until the January 2022 session.
In June 2019, the City Council of Oakland, California, unanimously passed Resolution No. 87731 CMS resolving that no “city funds or resources” can be used “to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults.” It also calls upon the District Attorney to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use of Entheogenic Plants or plant-based compounds,” and declares that “the investigation and arrest of adult persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority.”
In January 2020, the City Council of Santa Cruz, California unanimously passed Resolution No. NS-26,032 which resolved that Santa Cruz would “not expend City resources in the investigation and arrest of persons twenty-one (21) years of age and older solely for the personal use, personal possession, and personal cultivation of Entheogenic Plants and Fungi listed on the Federal Schedule 1 list and that such activities should be considered among the lowest law enforcement priorities for the City of Santa Cruz.”
On February 17, 2021 Senator Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 519, which would remove criminal penalties for the possession for personal use and social sharing of psilocybin, psilocyn, MDMA, LSD, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline (excluding peyote).
Ketamine was initially included in the list of compounds, but was removed in the Assembly by committee amendment. The bill also originally included provisions to dismiss and seal prior drug convictions that would no longer be unlawful; that language was removed in the Senate.
After being approved by the full Senate (21-16) on June 1, 2021, SB519 failed to win enough support in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and on August 26th Senator Wiener announced that the vote would be delayed until the January 2022 session.
In 2019, Denver became the first city in the U.S. to deprioritize law enforcement for possession of psilocybin mushrooms with the passage of Initiative 301. Penalties for drug possession have also been reduced at the state level.
Denver was the first city in the U.S. to deprioritize the enforcement of criminal penalties for personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms following the passage of Initiative 301 in May 2019.
Initiative 301 states that personal possession of mushrooms is the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority.” The initiative prevents law enforcement from using city funds for criminal law enforcement for the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms by adults, and makes provision for the establishment of a review panel to assess and report on the effects of the change by early 2021.
Initiative 301 did not legalize psilocybin.
On March 1, 2020, HB19-1263 went into effect state-wide. The act makes possession of 4 grams or less of a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II a level 1 drug misdemeanor; except that possession of any amount of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or a fourth or subsequent offense for possession of 4 grams or less of a schedule I or II controlled substance or any amount of a schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance is a level 4 drug felony.
A law passed in June 2021 convened a working group to study the medical use of psilocybin.
On June 7, 2021, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 1083 that calls upon the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to convene a working group “to study the health benefits of psilocybin” and examine “whether the use of psilocybin by a person under the direction of a healthcare provider may be beneficial to the person’s physical or mental well-being.” The working group is directed to “submit a report on its findings and recommendations” no later than January 1, 2022.
Measure 81, approved in November 2020, made possession and non-commercial use of entheogenic plants and fungi the lowest law enforcement priority.
On November 3, 2020, D.C. residents approved Initiative Measure No. 81 which made “the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older, for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi” among the Metropolitan Police Department’s “lowest enforcement priorities.”
A bill has been introduced in both the House and Senate that would require the state to research the medical benefits of psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine.
Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) and Representative Michael Grieco (D), the Ranking Minority Leader of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, introduced a bill that would require officials in the state to “conduct a study to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of alternative therapies,” including MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine, to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and migraines. The bill, introduced as SB348 and HB193 (“Using Alternative Therapies to Treat Mental Health and Other Medical Conditions”), was modeled on the legislation enacted into law in Texas on June 18, 2021 (HB1802). If enacted in Florida, the study would be performed and a report of findings and recommendations for future legislative action and implementation would be due by September 1, 2023.
A different bill introduced in the previous legislative session (The Florida Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act, HB549), that aimed to legalize and regulate the use of psilocybin for mental health treatment, died on April 30, 2021 in the Professions & Public Health Subcommittee.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its medical use.
On January 22, 2021, Senate Bill 738 was introduced, which would remove psilocybin and psilocyn from the list of Schedule I substances and requires the Department of Health to establish designated treatment centers for their therapeutic administration. On February 23, 2021 it was deferred by the Judiciary Committee.
On March 12, 2021, House Concurrent Resolution No. 174 was introduced, which calls for a “Medicinal Psilocybin and Psilocin Working Group” to be established in the Health Department and for members to study the current laws governing psilocybin, the existing research related to the “safety and efficacy” of psychedelics for mental health treatment, and propose guidelines for medical professionals to “prescribe and provide psilocybin” to patients. The working group “is requested to develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the availability of medicinal psilocybin and psilocin or psilocybin-based and psilocin-based products that are safe, accessible, and affordable for adults twenty-one years of age or older.”
A parallel resolution (S.C.R. No. 208) was introduced in the Senate on March 12th, and adopted after amendment on March 31st.
A resolution relating to entheogenic plants failed to pass in Chicago.
On January 28, 2020 Chicago’s Committee on Health and Human Relations heard R2019-735 an “Expression of support for adult use of Entheogenic Plants and call for hearing(s) to discuss findings from Department of Public Health on feasibility of use of Entheogenic Plants and its plant compounds as alternative treatment options.” The resolution was heard but not passed.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize and legalize psilocybin, and separately to decriminalize certain psychedelics for patients with life-threatening illness.
HF459 aimed to remove psilocybin and psilocin from Schedule 1 controlled substances, but was indefinitely postponed on March 3, 2021.
HF636 was introduced February 23, 2021 and referred to the House Public Safety Committee. The bill proposes creating a Psilocybin Services Act to, in part, provide for regulated administration of psilocybin products to individuals 21 years of age and older in the state. The bill would deprioritize criminal prosecution of noncommercial activities related to entheogenic plants and compounds including ibogaine, DMT, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, and psilocin.
HF480 was introduced February 11, 2021 and referred to Human Resources. The bill proposes decriminalizing certain schedule I controlled substances, including DMT, LSD, peyote, psilocybin, psilocyn, and MDMA, for use by certain patients diagnosed with a terminal illness or a life-threatening disease or condition.
Legislation to reduce penalties for personal possession of scheduled drugs died in committee.
On February 9, 2021, 20-year-old Kansas lawmaker Rep. Aaron Coleman introduced HB 2288, aimed at reducing penalties for manufacturing or distributing controlled substances, lowering the sentencing requirements for people convicted of such offenses. Drug offenses beyond simple possession would have still resulted in felony charges. The bill died in the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice.
Legislation has been introduced to legalize therapeutic use of psilocybin. Separate legislation to decriminalize personal possession of scheduled drugs was rejected in July 2021.
SP 496 would enact the Maine Psilocybin Services Act, legalizing and regulating use of psilocybin under the supervision of a licensed facilitator at licensed service centers, similar to Oregon’s Psilocybin Services Act.
HP 713 (LD 967) would have made possession of scheduled drugs for personal use merely a civil penalty. That legislation was rejected by the Senate 14-18 on July 1, 2021, after being approved by a 77-62 vote in the House.
Personal use and possession of entheogenic plants has been made the lowest law enforcement priority in the cities of Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton. Statewide legislation has been introduced to decriminalize personal drug possession, and separately to study the legalization of entheogenic plants and fungi.
On January 14, 2021, the city of Somerville, Massachusetts unanimously approved Agenda Item 211137 which resolved that no “city funds or resources” shall be used “to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of entheogenic plants by adults.” It further resolved that “the investigation and arrest of adult persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants…shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority,” and called upon the District Attorney to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use, possession, or distribution of entheogenic plants and the use or possession without the intent to distribute of any controlled substance.”
On February 3, 2021, the Cambridge City Council adopted (8-1) Policy Order POR 2021 #24, and on March 18, 2021 Northampton City Council adopted Resolution R021.207. Both contain language mirroring that of Somerville, although Northampton’s provisions also apply to minors.
On March 29, 2021, House Bill No. 1494 was introduced to establish an interagency task force to study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated entheogenic plants and fungi. It was referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
On the same day, March 29, 2021, House Bill No. 2119 was introduced to replace the criminal penalty for unlawful possession of certain controlled substances with “a civil fine of not more than fifty dollars or participation in a needs screening to identify health and other service needs, including but not limited to services that may address any problematic substance use and mental health conditions, lack of employment, housing, or food, and any need for civil legal services.” It was referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.
On October 20, 2021, the Easthampton City Council passed a non-binding resolution (7-0, with two abstentions) stating that “the arrest of persons for using or possessing controlled substances for personal adult therapeutic, excepting Lophophora and animal-derived controlled substances” and “the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distribution by caregivers, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants, for the purpose of therapeutic purposes” “shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority.” The resolution also “calls upon the city’s officials to work in support of decriminalizing entheogenic plants and approaching all controlled substances first and primarily through the lens of public health and restorative racial justice.”
Personal use and possession of entheogenic plants has been made the lowest law enforcement priority in the city of Ann Arbor, Detroit and in Washtenaw County, of which it is the seat. Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize cultivation and possession of entheogenic plants and fungi at the state level
On September 21, 2020, the City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan passed Resolution 20-1389 which resolved that “the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority,” that “city funds or resources shall not be used in any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants,” and that the District Attorney should “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use of Entheogenic Plants or plant-based compounds.”
On January 12, 2021, Washtenaw County, of which Ann Arbor is the seat, resolved in Policy Directive 2021-06 that prosecutors must no longer file criminal charges for use, possession, and cultivation of entheogenic plants, and that purchasing, transporting, and distributing them would be the lowest law enforcement priority, with a “general presumption against filing criminal charges relating to the small-scale sale or distribution.” “The Prosecutor’s Office will, however, continue to prosecute cases involving operating a motor vehicle under the influence of entheogenic plants.”
On September 2, 2021, Michigan Senators Jeff Irwin (D) and Adam Hollier (D) introduced legislation that would amend state law to decriminalize the manufacture, creation, delivery, and possession of an “entheogenic plant or fungus,” including any natural material containing DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, and psilocybin. Commercial sales would be prohibited, however the bill would permit exchange of “a reasonable fee for counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service that is provided in conjunction with the use of an entheogenic plant or fungus under the guidance and supervision of an individual providing the service.” The legislation, SB 631, was referred to the committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
On November 2, 2021 the voters of the City of Detroit accepted Proposal E to enact a city ordinance decriminalizing “the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults and make the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.” Entheogenic plants include “the full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials and/or their extracted compounds, limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, and phenethylamines.”
Prop E does not decriminalize sales or distribution but requires the Detroit Police Department to cease directing resources to investigating and prosecuting Detroit residents for personal possession and therapeutic use of those substances.
Legislation has been introduced to reduce the penalties for personal drug possession and allow certain psychedelics to be used by patients with life-threatening illness.
Introduced February 18, 2021, HB 1176, would expand Missouri’s Right to Try Act to no longer prohibit people with terminal or life-threatening illnesses from using substances such as MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, DMT, mescaline or ibogaine with a doctor’s recommendation after exhausting all other approved treatment options, if they qualify as an “investigational drug.”
The bill would also reduce penalties statewide for low-level possession of those drugs.
Under a State Supreme Court case, the use of certain psychedelics may be protected under the New Hampshire state constitution if it properly qualifies as a religious practice.
In The State of New Hampshire v. Mack, the New Hampshire Supreme Court on December 22, 2020 vacated the conviction of a man found guilty of possession of psilocybin mushrooms, holding that the lower court failed to properly consider that his use was part of his religious practices, as a member of the Oratory of Mystical Sacraments branch of the Oklevueha Native American Church.
To determine whether a defendant’s use of psilocybin mushrooms is a protected religious practice, the court held that New Hampshire courts must follow a “balancing test” between religious liberty (e.g., the use of psilocybin mushrooms) and government interest (e.g., a criminal law prohibiting their use). Under this test, the defendant must first establish that the law substantially burdens a religious practice, and then the government has the burden to show that its action is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest and is narrowly tailored to do so. In its ruling, the court noted that New Hampshire’s state constitution is stronger than the federal constitution in upholding religious liberty, because it expressly protects not only religious belief but also religious practices. The court remanded the case back to the trial court to apply the balancing test.
A bill passed in February 2021 reduced the penalty for possession of psilocybin for personal use.
On February 4, 2021, Senate Bill S3256 passed. The bill amended New Jersey state law solely to provide that “Possession of one ounce or less of psilocybin is a disorderly persons offense.” Such an offense is “punishable by up to up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.” Previously, possession of any amount of psilocybin was a third-degree crime punishable by 3-5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $35,000.
Growing fresh psilocybin mushrooms for personal use is not illegal drug “manufacturing” following a State Court of Appeals case.
In a 2005 decision, State of New Mexico v. Pratt, the Court of Appeals reversed a drug trafficking conviction, holding that “the act of growing mushrooms” was not the “manufacture” of a controlled substance. However, intent to manufacture and distribute mushrooms is still a felony, and “manufacture” “includes any packaging or repackaging of such substance or labeling or relabeling of its container.”
Legislation has been introduced to establish a public psychedelic research institute and research program. Separate decriminalization bills have been introduced.
On June 1, 2021, Bill No. A7928 was introduced by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. The bill would establish a public psychedelic research institute and a psychedelic substances therapeutic research program.
Rosenthal has also sponsored an Assembly bill to decriminalize psilocybin—introduced first during the 2019-2020 legislative session, on April 15, 2020 (A10299); and again during the 2020-2021 legislative session, on March 8, 2021 (A6065). Neither has left the Health Committee, where each was first referred.
Another bill, introduced during the 2020-2021 legislative session in both the Assembly (A7109) and the Senate (S1284), would eliminate criminal and civil penalties for possession of controlled substances, and establish a drug decriminalization task force to develop recommendations for legal reform “with the stated goal of treating substance use disorder as a disease, rather than a criminal behavior.”
Legislation to reduce penalties for possession failed to reach a floor vote.
SB 3 would have reformed drug sentencing laws by reducing penalties from felonies to misdemeanors for certain drug possession convictions and by diverting certain offenders to treatment instead of prison. The bill was never brought up for a final floor vote.
In November 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy, and to decriminalize the personal possession of drugs, with the passing of Measures 109 and 110.
Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to license and regulate the manufacturing, transportation, delivery, sale and purchase of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services. A two-year development period is allowed for from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022, during which the OHA will work with the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board to establish rules and regulations implementing Measure 109 and the use of psilocybin products and services. Applications related to the manufacture, sale and purchase of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services will be accepted starting on January 2, 2023.
Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, went into effect on February 1, 2021. It reclassified personal possession of small amounts of drugs as a civil violation with a $100 fine, which can be avoided if the person agrees to seek treatment. For possession of slightly larger amounts of some drugs, the penalty was reduced from a felony to misdemeanor possession. Treatment services are to be funded by marijuana tax revenue. Criminal penalties still apply for commercial drug activities and possession of larger amounts.
Legislation has been introduced to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for PTSD and other mental health conditions.
On October 12, 2021, the Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act (HB 1959), was introduced by Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R) and 21 other co-sponsors, and referred to the Health Committee. A co-sponsorship memorandum with Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D) explains the legislation would “authoriz[e] clinical study of the efficacy and cost/benefit optimization of psilocybin-assisted therapy in the treatment of PTSD, traumatic brain injury and various mental health conditions, with prioritization of funding and treatment for veterans, first responders, and their families.” For purposes of the study, the legislation would also “authorize limited cultivation of psilocybin under the authority of state law.” The law passed in Texas on June 18, 2021 (HB 1802) was noted as a model.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize minor drug possession.
On March 11, 2021, Senate Bill 604 was introduced. The bill would decriminalize minor drug possession, instead making it a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine, and the possibility of drug counseling and community service. Currently, possession is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. On March 25, 2021, the Judiciary Committee recommended the bill be held for further study.
A bill passed in June 2021 calls for a working group to study the therapeutic use of certain psychedelics.
On June 18, 2021, HB1802 became law. It will be in effect from September 1, 2021 until it expires September 1, 2023. The bill calls for a study led by the Department of State Health Services to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of alternative therapies including MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine for the treatment of specific mental health and medical conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and migraines. The department will evaluate and compare the efficacy of these novel treatments with current treatments, and prepare and submit a report by December 1, 2022. $1.4 million was allocated to directly fund a clinical trial of psilocybin to treat PTSD in veterans.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize certain entheogenic plants and fungi, and separately to decriminalize personal use and possession of certain scheduled drugs.
On February 23, 2021, House Bill H.309 was introduced and referred to the Judiciary Committee. The bill would decriminalize compounds found in plants and fungi that are used for medicinal, spiritual, religious, or entheogenic purposes, including psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, DMT, and ibogaine.
On March 10, 2021, House Bill H.422 was introduced and referred to the Human Services Committee. The bill would decriminalize possession of “personal use supply” of certain drugs, in an amount to be determined by a Drug Use Standards Advisory Board established within the Department of Health—based on what is “commonly possessed for consumption by an individual for any therapeutic, medicinal, or recreational use,” and with the goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. Possession of drugs under such amounts would be a civil violation subject to a fine of up to $50 or a referral to a substance use screening and health service. Currently, personal possession carries criminal penalties of up to three years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines.
Legislation that would have decriminalized personal use and possession of scheduled drugs failed in committee.
On February 5, 2021, HJ530 was left in the Committee on Rules without further action. The joint resolution (introduced on January 8, 2021) would have directed the Virginia State Crime Commission to study the propriety and effectiveness of alternative approaches to the Commonwealth’s enforcement scheme for the possession of controlled substances, including decriminalization of the possession of such substances.
Effective July 2021, penalties for personal use and possession of scheduled drugs have been reduced in the state, for a period of two years.
February 25, 2021 in the case of State v. Blake the Washington Supreme Court briefly decriminalized drug possession by judicial decree, declaring felony criminal penalties for knowing or unknowing possession of controlled substances to be unconstitutional.
In response, Washington’s legislature overhauled the state’s drug possession statutes. Effective July 25, 2021, SB 5476 encourages law enforcement officers and prosecutors to divert first- and second-time possession offenders to assessment, drug treatment, and services. The law reduces the penalty for possession of a controlled substance to a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The penalty provisions expire after two years, giving lawmakers time to review the effects of the new policy.
October 4, 2021 Seattle City Council passed Resolution 32021 declaring that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities “should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest enforcement priorities.” The resolution affirmed the Seattle Police Department’s existing enforcement practice to neither detain nor arrest individuals solely for suspected violations or for mere possession. The resolution also states the Council’s support for full state-wide decriminalization of certain entheogen-related activities.
Although the resolution expressed strident support for reduced enforcement policies, it did not alter existing city ordinances, municipal codes, nor did it legalize any controlled substances.
Legislation that would have descheduled certain drugs died in committee.
On March 12, 2021 HB 3113 proposed removing certain substances from schedule I of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, including psilocybin. The bill made it as far as Health and Human Resources before the Legislature adjourned without assigning a future date for a meeting or hearing.
Reform of psychedelic drug laws and policies is complicated and progressing in different ways in different places. In order to provide a nuanced yet quick-reference overview, we place jurisdictions into a number of categories:
These general categories do not always completely capture the diverse nature of reforms underway. As such, we provide more detailed information for each city jurisdiction, which can be reviewed state-by-state above or by clicking a location on the map.
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Of course, it should go without saying that this tracker is provided for informational purposes only, with no guarantees of its completeness or accuracy. It is not legal advice. Before pursuing any activities which may carry penalties, you should consult with a lawyer in your jurisdiction.