The national psychedelics reform organization Decriminalization Nature (DN) recently released a comprehensive guideline for organizers interested in pursuing local policy changes to lessen the criminalization of entheogenic substances.
DN, which has been behind successful campaigns to make enforcement of laws against plant-and fungi-derived psychedelics among the lowest police priorities in three cities so far, wants to give activists the resources they need to get decriminalization on the books either legislatively or through ballot initiatives. The 123-page document outlines the group’s origin, objectives, principles and best practices for accomplishing that feat.
While organizers are given model legislation to present to local legislators in the hopes of advancing reform through city councils and legislatures, they’re also encouraged to personalize it to fit the needs of their individual communities.
“Our role is to be present and available to support local efforts, and to steward the values and principles that underlie the core essence of the movement to decriminalize nature: Love, and its offspring’s [sic] Compassion, Justice, and Cooperation,” DN said in its introduction to the guide.
“We stand at a historical crossroad, a key transition point in our relationship with nature and each other. Our entheogenic allies enable us to heal, understand, and mature our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the planet that birthed us and to which we belong. Join us in spreading awareness of these entheogenic plants and fungi. Join the movement to decriminalize our relationship with nature so we may shift the balance to rebuild a more cooperative, just, and caring world.”
The organizer’s handbook also includes fact sheets, press release templates and sample educational emails to send to local lawmakers.
Not long after Denver became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms through a ballot initiative last year, DN activists in Oakland turned to their City Council to pass a resolution deprioritizing enforcement of laws against a wide range of psychedelics including ayahuasca and ibogaine. The local lawmakers approved the measure in a unanimous vote.
Since then, local DN chapters have helped decriminalize entheogenic substances in Santa Cruz and, most recently, Ann Arbor, Michigan. All of these council votes have been unanimous, a testament to the group’s focus on educating policymakers while sharing personal stories about the transformative impact that these plants and fungi have had on supporters.
When Washington, D.C. lawmakers declined to take up a psychedelics decriminalization measure, the city’s DN chapter took a different approach: they collected enough signatures to qualify a reform measure for the November ballot. And according to recent polling, the odds are strong that it may become one of the next jurisdictions to enact the policy change.
But the movement is just getting started. Activists in more than 100 cities have signaled to DN that they’re interested in taking similar steps—and this new guide is one tool they’re using to empower those organizers.
Decriminalization isn’t the end game, either. The core DN group based in Oakland recently shared follow-up legislation they hope to advance. It would create a regulatory framework to allow for psychedelic healing ceremonies in the city.
Separately, Oregon residents will be voting on an historic ballot initiative this year to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes. The state will also see a broader drug decriminalization measure on the ballot that would simultaneously invest fund in expanding substance misuse treatment.
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