Seattle City Council votes to decriminalize psychedelics

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday to decriminalize psilocybin and a number of other psychedelic substances.

The measure will make it so that Seattle’s police will consider it among its lowest priorities to arrest anyone for the use of entheogens, drugs similar to psilocybin that are often used for spiritual purposes, according to the council’s virtual meeting. Psilocybin, a mind-altering drug also referred to as “shrooms,” is categorized by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive group, according to Bloomberg

“These nonaddictive natural substances have real potential in clinical and therapeutic settings to make a really significant difference in people’s lives,” council member Andrew Lewis said before the vote. “This resolution really sets the stage as the first significant action in the state of Washington to move this policy forward.” 

Lewis’s office said in a statement that entheogens have been shown to have a positive impact on people struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. 

Seattle joins a number of cities in the U.S. that have decriminalized psilocybin, including DenverWashington, D.C., and Ann Arbor. Oregon became the first state last year to legalize the drug for therapeutic use. 

Lewis told Bloomberg in a phone interview before the vote that the council’s “overall goal is to follow the lead of Oregon.” 

“There’s a huge demonstrated potential for these substances to provide cutting-edge treatments for substance abuse, recovery from brain injuries and other issues,” Lewis told the news outlet. “I want to make sure we’re following the science in our policies around regulating these substances.” 

The move from the Seattle City Council comes as psilocybin and similar substances have been gaining momentum among researchers as alternative methods of treating mental health issues.