Easthampton becomes the fourth city in Massachusetts to support psychedelic law reforms following Northampton, Somerville, and Cambridge, reported Boston NPR news station WBUR. The city just approved a law that decriminalizes the possession and consumption of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, the active component in magic mushrooms.
The initiative received votes from seven members of the city council, while two councilors abstained. The voting was done on October 20.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Councilor Owen Zaret, aims to deprioritize arresting individuals for cultivating, possessing, and consuming psychedelic mushrooms. Despite the decriminalization, psilocybin remains to be federally illegal.
It is important to note that the measure does not require the police to deprioritize law enforcement on psychedelics, said Marijuana Moment. However, it is a necessary step toward the right direction as it makes a statement about the negative effects of criminalization. The same situation can be observed in other cities in the United States.
Zaret is optimistic about the passing of this measure, hoping that more communities adopt such reforms. He said, “I do really hope that what I see to be happening – and that Easthampton I think is really lucky to be on the cutting edge of – is that this whole topic, this is the start of a movement.”
James Davis, lead volunteer for Bay Staters for Natural Medicine supports this move. According to him, “These medicines are saving our neighbors from addiction and suicide. If cigarettes and alcohol are sold at every corner store, then we should be allowed to produce and use these medicines to heal ourselves.”
WBUR reached out to the Northwestern District Attorney’s office for comment but it failed to respond. The office is responsible for prosecuting drug cases in the city.
Meanwhile, Marijuana Moment was able to get a comment from Zaret, who expressed gratitude about the progressiveness shown through the vote for what he described as a “cutting-edge topic.”
He said that while some council members had “hard concepts” they needed to undo, the result of the vote is expected to help individuals who need access to effective alternative solutions. It is also expected to minimize the number of arrests and incarcerations.
Psychedelics are not the only focus of the legislation. According to the law, the Council “maintains that the use and possession of all controlled substances should be understood first and primarily as an issue of public health by city departments, agencies, boards, commissions, and all employees of the city.”
Zaret stands fast on the idea of substance misuse being a public health issue and not a criminal one. He advocates for an “aggressive campaign” to exert this notion and to further assert proper treatment of the matter.
The deprioritization of law enforcement on psychedelics is seen as a step toward achieving this goal. It is also seen as a win for advocates of health and safety.
Aside from Easthampton, other cities in the state namely Northampton, Somerville, and Cambridge also passed similar measures.