As cannabis becomes widely decriminalized, another drug-legalization movement in the U.S. is picking up steam. On Tuesday, the city council of Santa Cruz, California voted to decriminalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms within its borders. It’s now the third city in the U.S. to have done so.
The decision won’t exactly make magic mushrooms legal in Santa Cruz. The active ingredients found in them, psilocybin and psilocin, are still considered Schedule 1 drugs by the federal government, meaning they have no legally sanctioned use (much like cannabis). But the resolution unanimously passed by the council Tuesday night declares that the “investigation and arrest of individuals involved with the adult possession, use, or cultivation of psychoactive plants and fungi” will be considered the lowest priority for the city’s police, according to CBS affiliate KPIX 5.
Santa Cruz now joins Oakland, California and Denver, Colorado as the only cities where psychedelic mushrooms have been decriminalized. But legalization activists are already pushing for more victories. On Wednesday, the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature told news outlet Marijuana Moment that it has started work on a project to have mushrooms fully legalized and able to be sold in Oakland. The group hopes to have a legislative measure up for a vote this September, which will include a framework for how and where mushrooms can be sold.
Much like with cannabis, another drug that’s been decriminalized and legalized in many places, advocates argue that these mushrooms can be therapeutic. Some research has found that small doses of psilocybin can amplify the effects of mental health interventions for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. At least two psilocybin-based treatments are winding their way through the Food and Drug Administration’s process for drug approval, though clinical trials for them are still ongoing.
Nationally, though, the legalization movement for mushrooms still faces an uphill climb. While several Democratic presidential candidates have pledged to fully legalize cannabis if elected, including Bernie Sanders, long-shot candidate Andrew Yang is the only one as of now to have voiced support for psilocybin legalization.