Under current law possessing psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, could lead to five years of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. Under a new proposal that could soon be before city of Spokane voters, the city would be barred from using resources to prosecute or police the substance.
Mason Lord is the chair of Decriminalize Spokane and the sponsor of a city initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. He said if he can get enough signatures to get it on the ballot, Spokane voters could join a national effort to change policies around mushrooms and other plant-based substances that carry heavy legal penalties.
“We’re really concerned with jail time. People do not belong in prison or jail because they possess a natural substance, or plant that grows in nature,” he said.
These mushrooms are currently classified by the federal government as Schedule 1 drugs. That means that are categorized as having no medical benefits. It puts them in the same class of drugs as heroin and marijuana.
But Voters in Denver, Colorado and the city council in Oakland, California decriminalized them in 2019. In November Oregon voters allowed psilocybin) to be used for medical purposes.
Lord, who suffers from PTSD from a near-fatal car accident, said psilocybin) have helped him process that trauma. He also noted that John Hopkins University has conducted studies that show psilocybin) can help with depression.
While researchers have found some potential mental health benefits, psilocybin) are not without risks. A John Hopkins researchers also found some people who used them put themselves in danger after consuming them, or needed medical assistance. They also screen out study participants who may have pre-existing psychological conditions from studies.
Lord said he hopes the initiative will also address the fears many having about trying psilocybin).
“I think we ultimately do believe it just extends beyond the potential risk of getting arrested, it’s important for people to be aware that they’re not a criminal when they ingest a Psilocybin mushroom,” he said.
The group has already submitted the initiative to the city and Lord said they are now focusing on gathering signatures.