On Oct. 18, the Eureka City Council voted unanimously to deprioritize the use, cultivation and possession of entheogenic plants for those over the age of 21. Substances included in this list are psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, tryptamines, phenethylamines and other plants and fungi containing the compounds.
“The better way to put it is deprioritizing because that’s still a substance that at a federal level and state level is still illegal,” said Eureka City Councilwoman Renée Contreras-DeLoach. “We actually as a city cannot decriminalize anything.”
The reasoning for this is to acknowledge the use of entheogenic plants for religious purposes and mental health. The resolution states that “substance abuse, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress symptoms, chronic depression, severe anxiety, end-of-life anxiety, grief, cluster headaches and other debilitating conditions are present in our community” and that the city “currently has many other priorities for the use of its funds, staff, and public safety resources.”
The term entheogenic, based on the term entheogen, describes plants, fungi and natural materials that contain the compounds indole amines, tryptamines and phenethylamines. The United Nations considers the use of entheogenic plants for ritual purposes as excluded from being Schedule I substances.
Currently these are chemicals that are illegal to possess in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration says on their website that Schedule I substances are “drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The resolution passed does not protect the sale of entheogenic plants.
“Where it left off is that if somebody appears with the intent to deal, meaning that they have large quantities or it’s there with other drugs, etcetera…we didn’t deprioritize stuff like that,” said Contreras-DeLoach. “You can cultivate for your own personal use, not sell or distribute.”
A similar resolution passed in Arcata in October 2021. They both focus on the spiritual use of the plants as well as the benefits for users’ mental health. The Eureka resolution states that “Entheogenic plants have long existed and have been considered to be sacred to human cultures and interrelationships with nature for thousands of years.”
The resolution also says entheogenic plants such as Ibogaine can help with opiate and methamphetamine addiction, plants containing Dimethyltryptamine can be beneficial in treating addiction and depression, cacti that contain phenylethylamine compounds (like mescaline) can help addiction and is used in religious traditions, psilocybin can help with anxiety, prison recidivism and effectively treat substance abuse and helps with depression.
David Poplin of Humboldt Mycology worked with Decriminalize Nature Humboldt for the resolution in Arcata. “We started out just trying to inform the community and had people sign to show the city council the support we were getting,” said Poplin. “We would bring them fifty to a hundred signed sheets a week.”