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Psychedelics: Legal vs. Criminal

Given the rise of psychedelic plant use by individuals for recreational benefit or medical relief, U.S. cities have moved to decriminalizing possession and use of the plants.

Following a referendum on May 8, 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms for adults 21 and over. Though adult cannabis use has been legal in Colorado state since 2012, psilocybin mushrooms are still considered federally illegal.

On June 4, 2019, Oakland became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psychoactive plants, and the second to decriminalize magic mushrooms.

Advocacy groups were a key factor in both cities. Decriminalize California is moving toward a California-wide initiative, while the Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon is advocating for state-wide use of psilocybin as a legal medical therapy.

While psilocybin mushrooms remain illegal in Canada, Bruce Tobin, a registered clinical counselor in Victoria, B.C., has asked the Canadian government for a Section 56(1) exemption, which would give researchers and physicians access to substances that are currently prohibited.

He’s hoping psychedelics can help the 3,000 Canadians suffering from treatment-resistant end-of-life depression, but argues that these substances should only be administered under the supervision of a specialist, rather than be widely available.

Health Canada issued a ‘No Objection’ letter to a phase II Training Study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Mark Haden, Executive Director of MAPS Canada and an adjunct professor at the UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, hopes to have MDMA approved as a treatment for PTSD by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by Health Canada by 2021.

Certain psychedelic plants remain legal, depending on the country.

Salvia—which induces hallucinogenic effects—was once considered a natural health product in Canada, but became a controlled substance in 2016 following cases of abuse by teens and young adults.

Stay tuned regarding more news surrounding decriminalization and legalization of psychedelic plants and other substances.

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