Chicago council member calls for decriminalization of magic mushrooms

Chicago council member calls for decriminalization of magic mushrooms

City leaders passed a resolution expressing support for expanding scientific and medicinal research on organic psychedelics in Chicago, with the goal of decriminalizing adult use of the plants and fungi.

Chicago could become the third major U.S. city to decriminalize naturally psychedelic plants and fungi, and the largest city to do so.

On Oct. 16, the Chicago City Council introduced a resolution expressing support for advancing the conversation around organically psychoactive plants, known as “entheogenics.” The resolution calls for research on the potential of the plants as an alternative treatment to pharmaceutical drugs for ailments ranging from headaches to PTSD, and pledges support for adult use of the substances. The most commonly recognizable are psilocybin-containing fungi, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.”

Chicago Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward, sponsored the resolution, which recommends that law enforcement reduce its focus on pursuing criminal cases involving organic psychedelics to “amongst the lowest priority.”

Citing an early 1979 study, the resolution defines entheogenic substances as any range of natural plants or fungi “that can inspire personal and spiritual well-being,” as well as other psychological and physical benefits.

Because the Oct. 16 measure is a resolution rather an ordinance, it would only be advisory and not enforceable under city code were it to pass.

Pending the resolution’s requested review of studies on the substance, aldermen may propose a future ordinance to decriminalize entheogenic plants. If aldermen pass that proposal, it would advance to the Committee on Health and Human Relations before returning to the council for a full, final vote.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency currently classifies organic psychedelics as a “Schedule I” substance, its most severe category of illicit drugs that includes heroin. The agency also lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

In 2018, researchers at Johns Hopkins University recommended reclassifying psilocybin to Schedule IV to allow for medicinal use.

Chicago would be the third major city to decriminalize organic psychedelics, following Denver, Colorado, and Oakland, California.

In June, Illinois became the 11th state in the nation to legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct an error made by the Chicago City Clerk. City records initially reported the resolution as having been unanimously adopted by the Chicago City Council. It was not.

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