Frequently Asked Questions
What are entheogens?
Entheogens are sacred, natural ethnobotanicals, often erroneously labeled as “drugs.” Common examples of these plants and fungi include psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and cacti containing mescaline. For millennia, cultures have respected entheogens for providing healing, knowledge, creativity, and spiritual connection. Entheogenic plant practices have long historical roots in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, yet this connection was severed for most of the global population long ago. More recently, scientific studies are demonstrating that entheogens can be beneficial for treating conditions such as end-of-life anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, cluster headaches, PTSD, neurodegeneration, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and treatment resistant depression, as well as reduce rates of intimate partner violence and recidivism. Additionally, recent studies have shown entheogens to be beneficial to personal and spiritual growth. These studies confirm the anecdotal evidence provided by entheogenic cultures that have traditionally engaged with these plants.
I don’t partake in entheogens. Why and how is this resolution pertinent to me?
Here are just a few examples of many reasons this resolution might matter to you:
-Perhaps you have some libertarian values and believe in individual liberty, reducing governmental control over what we consume, and that only those acts that infringe upon the rights of another qualify as crimes.
-Perhaps you know a veteran or a law enforcement officer who is affected by PTSD or a friend or family member who struggles with addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or depression; numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of entheogens in treating all the above disorders, even when no other treatments have been successful.
-Perhaps you know someone who is terminally ill and struggling with the death process; entheogens have been shown to help people come to terms with dying and alleviate their anxiety.
-Perhaps you don’t believe in prisons profiting off people incarcerated for non-violent crimes; no one should go to jail, lose their children, lose their job, or lose their citizen’s rights for attempting to access the healing potential or self-exploration accessed through entheogenic plants and fungi.
-Perhaps you are an advocate for social justice; decriminalization of entheogens is one step towards ending a drug war that disproportionately marginalizes and persecutes poor people and people of color. Furthermore, decriminalization aims to make access to the healing potential of entheogens equitably accessible to all humans.
-Perhaps you care about the environment and want others to be inspired to do the same; studies have shown that entheogenic use tends to increase one’s care for and connection to the natural world.
-Perhaps you want to protect nature from commodification; decriminalization ensures people have direct access to entheogens and ensures this access to nature as an inalienable right.
-Perhaps you have studied the history of the war on drugs and want to right a wrong decision made by President Nixon based on misinformation, fear, and discrimination.
-Perhaps you are passionate about the healing of our planet, our systems, and ourselves, and want to free and support all helpful paths that further this endeavor.
What is the current legal status of entheogens?
While international law does not prohibit or control entheogenic plants and fungi, or natural preparations made thereof, legal status of entheogens varies by country. In the United States, entheogens are still prohibited and are Schedule I, meaning they are designated as having no medical value and being highly addictive, both characteristics that have proven to be false (and of which there was no evidence when they were initially scheduled). One of our aims with this resolution is to educate people about why these plants and fungi do not belong in the category of drugs in which they have been placed, and in fact, are healing medicines that can, for example, help heal people from trauma and powerful addictions to harmful substances.
The Supreme Court, however, has protected sacramental use of certain entheogens for the Native American Church and for two churches for whom ayahuasca is a sacrament. Meanwhile, Denver, CO recently decriminalized mushrooms containing psilocybin through an initiative, while Oakland, CA unanimously decriminalized all natural entheogenic plants and fungi by resolution.
What effect would this resolution have?
Resolutions don't contradict state or federal law, but determine where to allocate funds. This resolution would make all crimes related to entheogenic plants and fungi a lowest priority for law enforcement and remove all funds from the pursuance of prosecuting such crimes. So while a law enforcement officer takes an oath to enforce state law, this resolution removes funding so that any tickets written will not have the funds to be processed, hence removing the police officer from a double bind position. Through this resolution, the city and county also request of the District Attorney not to pursue any cases of this sort.
More informally said, this resolution affirms that we in Port Townsend and Jefferson County, as a political body, disagree with the control motivated and fear based reaction of Nixon to ban these plants and fungi. We believe humans should have an inalienable right to their connection to nature, including healing plants and fungi. In addition to there never being any evidence of the dangers attributed to entheogens in the first place, science now shows that entheogens are incredibly non-dangerous, especially relative to pharmaceuticals. So instead of continuing to look through the lens of misinformed fear, we are looking through the lenses of history, science, compassion, and common sense, all of which point to decriminalization. Therefore, we’re not going to prioritize arrests of people using entheogenic plants and fungi. If our local law enforcement agencies come across a mushroom growing collective or encounter someone possessing psilocybin mushrooms, they’ll just keep on going, because we’ve made it clear that persecuting those who engage with these plants/fungi is not our priority here - we like plants and we’re not going to punish our residents for engaging with nature. If a federal or state agency wants to persecute these same people, that’s up to them.
What does this resolution prohibit?
Entheogenic plants and fungi are prohibited from commercial sales and manufacturing, being on school grounds, driving under the influence, and public disturbance.
Why decriminalization instead of legalization?
We absolutely believe decriminalization is a mandatory first step if we are to be true to the idea of access and non-commodification. Anything else opens the doors to venture capital take over and the commodification or medicalization of the industry. Without decriminalization before legalization, those people/corporations/clinicians can use the legal system to have anyone arrested who isn’t following their regulations. Criminalization through regulation perpetuates the drug war for disenfranchised communities who cannot afford treatment or purchase of said substances; only people with certain socioeconomic status will have access. We believe decriminalization empowers all people to have the basic right and equitable access to these medicines and that this right must be maintained upon legal channels also opening.
We also encourage the conscientious and thoughtful deliberation of leadership at all levels of government to protect this equitable access to entheogenic plants and fungi by seeking to restrict any corporate activity that would diminish accessibility, diversity, or supply of these entheogens to ensure they remain forever available to all humans.
Additionally, legalization of these federally illegal, Schedule I substances goes directly against federal law. As a small community, the City of Port Townsend and Jefferson County does not have the resources to fight a potential federal lawsuit.,
We recommend visiting the following link to view a chart comparing the Decriminalize Nature movement to Oregon's Psilocybin Service Initiative. We believe these movements can be complementary, but the chart displays the reasons we strongly emphasize the importance of decriminalizing first:
Why not work to have these plants and fungi rescheduled instead?
To be rescheduled, the Controlled Substances Act requires that each plant has proven “medical value.” Inherent to the process of rescheduling are clinical trials which necessitate the production of expensive pharmaceutical grade synthetics or genetically modified “biologically-derived” substances. We believe no person or corporation should ever be allowed to patent natural genetic material, and without the lure of capitalizing on these medicines, there is little funding and few trials for whole plant medical research. Natural plants and fungi should not be scheduled.
Furthermore, we believe in the inalienable human right to a direct relationship with nature, including the personal liberty to grow, use, and share entheogenic plants and fungi. And while we believe individuals have the right to access these plants for any use they choose, we especially emphasize the basic rights of people to use them for religious freedom, personal healing, and self-exploration. Decriminalizing entheogens restores this basic right of individuals and communities to explore different levels of the human experience for healing, exploration, and growth.
Why are you focusing on the local level rather than the state level?
Politics begin at a local level and as such, we are primarily concerned with our immediate community. We believe in building a strong network of support and offering ourselves as a local example, first showing evidence at the grassroots level that people want this change. Many cities are taking the same approach and together we believe we will be able to make a larger impact - one that will eventually reach state and federal levels. We believe this is the beginning of a psychedelic renaissance, a renaissance that will require small, steady, and deliberately planned-out steps to achieve. Furthermore, we believe working at the local level helps build and strengthen our local community connections and resilience.
Why are you doing a joint resolution with the county and the city?
We believe Port Townsend and Jefferson County at large are thoroughly interwoven communities and that this resolution is equally relevant to them both.
Why in this area?
We are a resilient community characterized by a unique blend of cohesive community, healthy food systems, quirky out of the box character, open minded individuals, collaborative spirit, and access to a plethora of healing modalities. Decriminalizing entheogens emphasizes our community values of personal freedom, self-responsibility, social justice and reform of harmful societal structures/practices, curiosity, creativity, progressive free-thinking, connection to the natural world (including those who have a working relationship with it - farmers, loggers, fisherpeople, and so forth), and alternative living (including education, medicine, therapy, and the healing arts). We feel it's a perfect environment to support such work being done with integrity, care, and maturity.
Based on many connections, conversations, and research involving the city and county populations, we have also found that this is generally a non-partisan issue. Some people support decriminalization because they see the value these plants have for treating mental health issues, working with addiction, connecting people with nature and community, or for spiritual development. Others support it because they lean more libertarian and don't believe the government should regulate what they choose to put in their bodies. Others prioritize social justice, ending the war on drugs, and making healing accessible to all.
Furthermore, this community already has vast resources of knowledge, experience, and people dedicated to providing support and education to the public about safe and therapeutic use of entheogens. Decriminalization creates a context in which these resources can become available to all. Our vision is of this being a place where responsible, respectful engagement with these medicines can shine a light for other places to be inspired by and learn from.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies has been spearheading this movement within the U.S. since 1986. In 2018, Michael Pollan's book, How to Change Your Mind, catapulted this topic into mainstream awareness, enabling people to imagine new potential and possibility within the field. In May of 2019, Denver, Colorado (lead by the Decriminalize Denver initiative) became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. In June of this year, the Decriminalize Nature organization from Oakland, California successfully decriminalized all entheogenic plants and fungi in their city; the city council unanimously passed the resolution. Decriminalize Nature is growing into a nationwide movement and cities like Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Chicago, Portland, Eugene, Ann Arbor, and many others are speaking with their city council members to move the resolution forward
In September of this year, John Hopkins University announced they are expanding the psychedelic research unit they’ve had since 2000 anad are opening the first Psychedelic Research Center in the U.S. We are in the beginning steps of a psychedelic renaissance and we believe in our community’s potential to forefront this wave. Also, we are at a critical tipping point regarding environmental care and concern for the planet and believe these medicines are powerful tools in re-inspiring our relationship to the earth.
Furthermore, we believe these plants and fungi will be legalized within certain channels in upcoming years and we emphasize the importance of decriminalizing these plants first so they are not commodified in the legalization or medicalization process and access limited to certain populations. The latter situation leaves people dependent on industry and authority for access to entheogenic experiences, disconnecting them from their place in the natural ecosystem. Decriminalizing nature first empowers residents to be able to grow their own entheogens, share them with their community, and choose the appropriate setting for their intentions. As this national conversation on entheogens grows, we feel it is essential to take a stand for disenfranchised communities by opening a way for individual and community access.
If entheogens are first decriminalized, then people will have the option to grow their own and the ability to create/choose for themselves how to partake in these experiences. Upon legalization, those who can/want to, can then also access the plants through legal means, such as in a therapeutic or medical setting. Decriminalization prevents corporations, government, pharmaceutical companies, prisons, and so forth from persecuting those who use these substances outside legal regulatory frameworks.
Finally, as interest in these medicines grows, many with the resources to do so are traveling to countries where they can legally partake in these medicines (commonly in questionable, if not dangerous, settings). Others will partake in entheogens in local subpar settings due to lack of education or lack of access to a safe and supportive setting. All these carry risks that are much greater than partaking in the medicines themselves. We believe decriminalization addresses this concern so that access and support systems are enabled in one’s own community, where circles of trust help people find the right support for their entheogenic experiences.
Why are you focusing on this issue when there are so many bigger problems in this area? Why not start with homelessness, mental illness, drug addiction, environmental issues, or even something more practical like fixing our roads or building a new pool for our kids?
While it may seem like there are more important issues in the city to focus on, we believe entheogens can help address some of the root issues (such as trauma, addiction, depression, lack of community connection and support, and so forth) that give rise to many of the more obvious and seemingly unrelated problems we face. As entheogens become more accessible to those who currently do not have access, they can begin helping treat addiction, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other issues that currently burden local resources. They often awaken individuals to a deeper care for themselves, one another, and our living planet. We have also witnessed that as people heal deep-seated trauma and wounds through work with entheogens, they often reach a place of wanting to be of service and give back to their communities.
We recognize that there will be an initial cost and time investment by the city and county to make these changes. And, we believe the benefits of decriminalizing these plants and fungi will far outweigh the initial cost, both financially and in terms of quality of life here. We strongly believe the small initial investment will greatly benefit the fabric of our community at large, providing healing opportunities for those for whom nothing has yet worked and helping resolve many of the seemingly unrelated problems we are currently facing.
Why are synthetic psychedelics like MDMA and LSD not included?
While ultimately we believe these substances should also be decriminalized, we feel that this right is less basic than our right to partake in plants and fungi that grow naturally on our planet and in our local environment. Synthetic substances also bring up issues of purity, how to handle the labs that create these substances, where to draw the line with what substances are considered psychedelic, and so forth. In other words, they are more complex than we want to start with, and tend to be more controversial. Testing kits and labs, harm reduction practices, and decriminalization is something we would love to see happen, but is not part of the current resolution for the reasons described above.
Then why not just decriminalize all drugs?
Again, we’re taking it one step at a time. While we ultimately believe that even harmful drug use is best addressed as a health problem, we also believe that decriminalizing these substances and educating people about the ways they can heal the root causes of addiction is an imperative first step. So, for example, this resolution decriminalizes all entheogenic plants and fungi on Schedule 1, but not Schedule 2 plants like poppy and coca, which require a significantly larger educational campaign with much higher risks than we are currently prepared to engage in. We believe the current cultural milieu has opened enough to decriminalize entheogens and we don’t want to risk not passing the resolution by taking too large of a leap to start.
Will the decision to write a ticket pertaining to entheogens still fall on individual police officers and the prosecuting attorney since they take an oath to enforce state law?
We are still in communication with our county and city officials to work out the details, but what follows is the way it works in Oakland (and we’re not aware of any reason our city would function differently; in fact, by doing a joint resolution with the county, ours may be even more effective): Police have to follow city funding allocations and because this resolution would restrict all funds concerning entheogenic plants and fungi, there would be no money to write/process tickets or pay the wages for anyone to do so (and there will thus be no processed cases to pursue for the prosecuting attorney, to whom the city can only make requests regarding funding).
It works differently at the county level, as the sheriff is independently elected and not directed by the county. The county commissioners, however, can make a request of the Sheriff and District Attorney. We have yet to meet in person with the Sheriff, but are hoping he might also sign the resolution and agree to make entheogens a lowest priority and restrict all funding from such enforcement.
So the resolution makes it clear that law enforcement officers are not to put any energy into pursuing cases involving entheogenic plants or fungi, because there is no money to do so. We have also suggested to Chief of Police Michael Evans that Port Townsend Psychedelic Society hold educational workshops for police officers and other involved law enforcement personnel if the resolution passes to help reduce potential confusion and/or conflict between law enforcement officers and community members regarding the changes. And finally, federal and state agencies can still treat these plants as criminal, but at least there won’t be division within our own community.
But if state and federal entities could still arrest or prosecute people, then how can we feel safe growing, sharing, or using entheogens? How does the local law protect against state or federal law enforcement?
While local law does not technically protect us from state or federal law, we are choosing to proceed from a place of trust (rather than letting fear hold us back from needed change) that they will respect our local decision, just as the federal government has so far respected the state decision to legalize cannabis (outside of federally owned land, at least). As more and more cities decriminalize these plants and fungi and our country does not explode with problems as a result (and instead we see that many problems are effectively and compassionately addressed), we hope that the overall culture will continue to change and federal and state agencies will not only respect local decisions, but alter their own policies to match the wishes of their constituents. Until that happens, we do advise continuing to be discreet and to not unnecessarily elicit the attention of these agencies.
If these plants/fungi are already lowest priority, why bring potential negative attention to them in trying to officially decriminalize them?
While we have been told that enforcing laws regarding entheogens is already lowest priority in our city/county, we believe it's time to have this conversation and especially to officially decriminalize these plants before they are legalized (and thus have the risk of them being commercialized or access limited to only those with privilege). Decriminalization is a risk reduction strategy so those who are already having experiences can find support and educational resources they need, as well as helping those who are just learning about them. Going to jail for plants and fungi is something our community should take a stand against and affirms what law enforcement here already knows: that they have much more important things to do with their time. We believe decriminalization represents a common sense change in local policy so that our policy accurately reflects what is already happening here and corrects for laws that never should have been passed in the first place.
How will their use be regulated and people kept safe?
Instead of regulation, we believe in educating people to help guide their free decisions regarding their relationship to nature. We believe in encouraging community based guidelines and practices, so that a local culture of safe and supported use is developed. There are also regulatory and legal frameworks already in place that will offer safety - for example, laws around driving under the influence, endangerment of children, public disorderly conduct, and inflicting injury to self or others. We are excited to work with the city/county to make sure the community is safe, while at the same time respecting each individual’s right to make an educated choice regarding how/when they engage with entheogens. And finally, because the primary safety concerns involve the person using the entheogen, we believe decriminalization empowers any individual who does feel unsafe or is having a challenging experience to reach out and receive help.
What about the children? Won’t this make these substances more available to them?
Today, children are put on pharmaceutical regimens that have no history of long-term safety and are much more dangerous than entheogenic plants and fungi. Children also have just as easy of a time accessing alcohol and tobacco, both of which are much more harmful to their development. We also believe that education is much more effective than prohibition.
As a community resource, the Psychedelic Society is available to help implement a comprehensive drug education curriculum in our local high schools, which would follow Decriminalize Nature’s curriculum. Though we do not endorse the under-age use of psychedelic substances, we believe in the importance of real education (vs. the failed DARE program). Like with sex education programs, we do not believe in teaching an abstinence-only drug education program, as it does not take adequate responsibility in educating the youth in our community. We will share the reasons why it is best to wait until one is older to use entheogens, such as waiting until one’s brain and psyche have developed and to see whether one has any underlying psychological issues that might be triggered. And, we will include comprehensive safety information regarding medicinal plants and fungi, should they choose to partake in these substances.
Would these plants and fungi be available for sale?
No. We believe in the sacredness and the equitable access of these plants and fungi. Our resolution specifically states that we do not believe in the commodification of these medicines. Instead, we encourage the grow, gather, and gift approach for individuals to connect and share with their community. Decriminalize Nature Oakland is also exploring a membership cooperative or collective model to support those who may not otherwise have access; we look forward to following suit here.
As these plants and fungi are decriminalized and professional offerings around them grow, will people be making money off of them in that way?
While the plants and fungi themselves should be free, we recognize that those who are putting in time and energy to create safe structures for entheogenic use deserve compensation for their work. However, we encourage all professional activities surrounding entheogens to operate through such models as collectives, sole-proprietorships, non-profits, churches, educational institutions, and/or open source research. We also encourage all who engage in such professions to find a respectful balance between making a sustainable living and making their offerings accessible.
What does safe and responsible practice with entheogens look like?
This varies with each person’s needs and experience. For an experienced person, it might be finding a safe and supportive place in nature, setting up a place to rest as well as clear boundaries for exploration of the area, having a supportive and trusted sitter, and all your basic needs met. For a person new to this work or working with a new entheogen, it might look like partaking in a ceremony with an experienced facilitator who has been recommended by a trusted community member and with whom you’ve had conversations and feel like it would be a supportive environment for you. It also might include working with the support of a trusted mental health professional or an experienced guide and/or having community support around the preparation and integration process. Recognizing that for entheogenic plants and fungi to provide the healing experiences so needed by humanity, one cannot separate the plant from the approach taken. We encourage approaching all entheogenic experiences with care, reverence, and intention.
Here are a few guidelines to start with:
Choose the right medicine for you. Do your research, ask people you trust about their experiences, and understand the potential risks.
Choose the right dosage. If you are uncertain how much you should take or it is your first time, start small!
Choose the right environment. Find a setting that is comfortable for you, one that will help enable you to go deeper into your journey with focus and clarity.
Find a trusted sitter. This is strongly recommended if you are inexperienced with these substances. There are mental health professionals who can help assist with preparation, journeying, and integration. Lay out pre-established agreements between the two of you.
Be open to lifestyle changes. These experiences may shift your perception regarding thought-habits, behavioral patterns, or relationship dynamics. It is recommended you approach these experiences with an open mind toward making any necessary changes the medicine asks of you (diet, exercise, styles of communication, memory patterns, narrative transformations, etc). We also recommend waiting to make any major decisions until a few weeks after an entheogenic experience so that you have time to thoroughly think and feel them through.
Are these substances safe?
The plants and fungi comprising entheogens have a low safety risk. They are non-addictive and most have no known lethal doses, though a few are contraindicated for people with heart conditions or those taking certain medications (particularly MAO-inhibitors - and while this concern is theoretical, we recommend erring on the side of caution). No entheogens have any evidence of lasting toxicity within the body. Psychologically, there is a chance of triggering or exacerbating underlying psychological disorders or (very rarely) temporary psychosis.
And even though the risks involving entheogens are far below alcohol and even many over the counter medicines, much less prescribed pharmaceuticals, we want to help mitigate them through education and various means of support within our community. Some examples of this include 1) screening processes and education about who should avoid these substances (see below) 2) education about what it means to have a safe and supportive set/setting and 3) following the following guidelines originating from Decriminalize Nature Oakland:
1. Entheogens are not for everyone. Knowledgeable clinicians caution that some people should not take entheogenic plants or fungi, including people with a personal or family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, those with personality disorder or suicidal ideation, or who are taking certain medications.
2. If someone has a serious condition like major depression or PTSD, they would do well to get serious, professional help before using an entheogen and to ask that caregiver’s advice. (Some counselors and therapists are glad to work with a client before and after an entheogenic journey).
3. Unless you have expert guidance, it’s best to start with small amounts, using more only after you become familiar with the material and the terrain.
4. Don’t go solo (with nontrivial doses). Have at least one trusted support person (such as a sitter, guide, or facilitator) be with you, sober during the entire journey, and commit in advance to honor that person’s instructions if he or she tells you to not do something. Entheogens can amplify the whole range of human emotions, including anxiety which can sometimes lead to panic. Having a sitter gives you a certain comfort and mental freedom, and helps keep things safe.
5. Reverence reduces risks and can help lead to positive outcomes. In cultures that have long used entheogenic substances beneficially, that use is approached with great respect, not haphazardly, and for life-enhancing purpose
We also believe the health and safety risks of engaging with entheogenic plants and fungi stem more from the effects of them being criminalized than from using entheogens themselves. Decriminalization allows for the mitigative factors described above (such as education, creation of safe and supportive spaces, trusted local resources, comfort asking for help without legal consequences) to be put in place and equitably accessed.
I hear a lot about the importance of integration when discussing decriminalization. What does this refer to? What are resources in this area that could support integration?
Integration is a meaning making process following a profound experience with the aim of implementing those insights into daily life and into one’s community. We are in the process of creating another webpage responding more fully to this question.
If this resolution passes and one of the intentions is access for all adults, how might I go about gaining access and finding the most supportive approach for myself? What if I have a very low income and am not in communities where these plants and fungi are easy to access?
While one of the main outcomes we seek through decriminalization is access for all, we imagine it will be a slow process before entheogens can be accessed through collective growing operations or it being easy to find a professional supportive context. That said, we are committed to continue to work towards that aim until such offerings are commonplace. In the meantime, we recommend attending our educational and community building events so that when such offerings begin to arise, you will already be prepared for the experience, educated in how to make the best choices for yourself, and connected with supportive community.
How do we address issues of cultural appropriation regarding entheogenic use?
We encourage knowledge exchange programs between traditional indigenous wisdom keepers and contemporary cultures on entheogenic practices. We also encourage individuals drawing from any tradition to do so with respect and gratitude, giving credit to their source.
If everyone starts using these plants, is there a risk of them becoming endangered?
We encourage people to research local flora and fauna to discover how to ethically source local and sustainable plants, especially being sure to have a robust replanting practice for any plants wild-harvested. Many plants that do not naturally grow here can be grown inside. We encourage people to work most often with those plants than can be cultivated locally, and if receiving plants from another part of the planet, we encourage people to find ways to help support their sustainable cultivation and collection in the place they are from. We also support bringing awareness to endangered entheogenic plants and co-creating new growing environments to proactively protect plants whose native land is endangered by mining and agricultural business.
What has Port Townsend Psychedelic Society done thus far?
After creating a resolution for our area and a website to describe our mission and values, we began introducing the resolution to local officials and to various communities at large.
So far, we've presented to the Board of Health, the county commissioners, and to the city council. We've also met with the county health officer, the chief of police, the city attorney, the police navigator, several individual city councillors and commissioners, and with the mayor. So far, everyone has been curious, open-minded, and helpful. Decriminalize Nature Oakland has also been super helpful in the process and in offering resources to help support community outreach and education.
We also had a booth at the Thing festival this last summer in Port Townsend, as well as an educational presentation at a local gathering place. We have a monthly newsletter in which we send out updates about the decriminalization process and any upcoming events.
What is next on your agenda?
The path to decriminalization here sounds like it will take a while due to elections happening this fall, a new city manager getting settled, the budget needing to be finished, and other issues that were already on their plates. Most likely, the earliest this issue will be looked at closely is early in 2020.
In the meantime, we will continue meeting with people, organizing fundraisers and educational presentations, developing a handbook that lists the plethora of resources that support such work and its integration in this area, and speaking during the public comment periods at city and county meetings. We're also working to meet with groups who might not know much about these medicines and without this knowledge, might otherwise have a knee-jerk reaction based on misinformation that has been spread about these plants and fungi over the years.
We plan to start having more Psychedelic Society meetings, educational events, peer integration circles (these have already existed underground for years in our area, but we will offer another one that is openly publicized), fundraisers, and continue spreading the word and connecting with people. We know this might be a slow process, but we're patient and committed and appreciate all the conversations and educational moments we're having along the way.
What is the long-term vision for the Psychedelic Society?
Some of the things we hope to offer are:
Educational workshops for the public and for law enforcement personnel
Psychedelic risk-reduction education in local high schools
Psychedelic support spaces at local events
An ever-evolving guide to local entheogenic integration and support resources
Peer integration groups
Community building events
I’d like to help! What are some things I can do?
Check out our How Can I Help webpage for lots of ideas.
What personal experiences motivated the introduction of this decriminalization movement? How did this start in Port Townsend?
Rebecca and Erin were both immediately inspired to work on decriminalization when they heard about Oakland’s resolution passing. Rebecca jumped right in, starting the Port Townsend Psychedelic Society and drafting an initial resolution. Erin had a similar reaction, reaching out to one of her school colleagues who was a main organizer in Oakland, only to soon learn that Rebecca was already started on the project. So they teamed up, and the rest is history in process.
Rebecca’s first psilocybin experience during undergrad instigated her interest in the healing potential of non-ordinary states. She had been working with a therapist the year prior to her first journey to resolve trauma she'd experienced while living homeless for a year and a half, then in a crisis residential center, and finally in the foster care system. While attending university through a scholarship program designed for former foster youth, she became aware of how greatly her PTSD, anxiety, and depression diminished her quality of life and began focusing on improving her internal quality of being. Psychedelics revolutionized this journey, enabling greater insight and a deeper, embodied connection to herself and the sensory world. These experiences altered her academic and life trajectory towards the field of somatics, embodied ecology, anthropology, movement therapy, and consciousness exploration. Her passion for the healing power of embodied experience as the entry point into a full relationship with the world and with ourselves has led her to work in orphanages in New Delhi developing case studies on trauma-informed care and in Brazil where she assisted in Ayahuasca ceremonies, glimpsing the powerful synergy of community work and plant medicine.
Erin was introduced to entheogens as a philosophy undergrad who was given a book that made clear their relevance to philosophical pursuits. After a year of research that unraveled years of internalized propaganda about these plants and fungi, she has since been exploring these medicines in her own personal experience, as well as writing a dissertation exploring the intersection of entheogens, cultivation of experience, ethics, and ecology. Having experienced and witnessed the powerful healing and awakening potential of these medicines in herself, many others, and in her community, she deeply believes everyone should have the basic right to access these experiences. She is passionate about cocreating educational and community structures to support using entheogens in safe, effective, and healing ways.