Berkeley City Council takes on decriminalization of psychedelic drugs

Psychedelic reform was on the agenda at the Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday. Legislation sponsored by City Council member Sophie Hahn would de-prioritize enforcement of laws around psychedelics. This means Berkeley police would be likely no longer arrest people for personal possession or use of psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms and ayahuasca.

During the meeting, Hahn said, "Berkeley has long been a leader on progressive legislation when it comes to criminal justice and cannabis reform in particular. And tonight’s resolution builds on that legacy."

Ahead of the meeting, we asked some people around town if they supported this proposed change.

"I say go for it. I don’t see anything wrong with it," said former Berkeley resident Carvel Watson.

Berkeley resident Yali Bitan said, "That would be great. Mushrooms are pretty fun. They shouldn’t be illegal. Nobody should be going to jail for trying to have a nice little time expanding their brain."

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The legislation only applies to certain mind-altering plants. Not synthetic drugs like LSD (acid) or MDMA (ecstasy/molly). It also does not include peyote, a small hallucinogenic cactus. Some speakers at the meeting asked the city council to reconsider this, saying peyote is used in healing ceremonies.

During public comment, one speaker said, "There’s a lot of Native people here in California, and in the U.S. that need to still stay traditional."

The legislation only applies to the personal use and possession of psychedelics. Gifting, selling, or administering hallucinogens would still be prohibited.