Longtime supporters of legalizing psychedelic drugs in Minnesota believe the state's politics may finally be shifting their way.
Minnesota lawmakers this year legalized adult-use cannabis and agreed to create a panel to study the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic medicine. In Minneapolis, the mayor last month ordered the police to back off enforcing laws around psychoactive plants, such as psychedelic mushrooms.
With the DFL in control of the House and Senate next year, the coming session may be the “greatest chance we’ll have to see laws changed that reduce the war on people who use drugs,” said Marcus Harcus, a board member of Big Psych, a Minneapolis-based psychedelics activist organization.
“There’s going to be legislation that will be introduced to legalize mushrooms,” he said. “Will it pass? We don't know.”
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Harcus was among some 200 people earlier this month attending Big Psych’s third annual psychedelic symposium at Capri Theater in Minneapolis. The two-day event included lectures and workshops led by psychotherapists, body workers and psychedelics researchers who have studied the properties of plant-based medicines and psychoactive plants.
“The goal here is to offer a diverse plethora of perspectives on psychedelics,” said Jade Mycelia, co-founder of Big Psych. “A lot of times, there's only one medical modality that's being pushed forth and propped up as the one true way. And we want to really express and honor that there are so many different ways to experience psychedelics, and everyone's approach is valid.”
Her group was part of the effort to get Minneapolis to ease off enforcement of natural psychedelics. On July 21, Mayor Jacob Frey directed the city’s police department and other agencies to treat entheogenic plants as the “lowest law enforcement priority,” so resources could be shifted to violent crime and fentanyl.
“I was just happier to know that there's one less thing that will criminalize the people because honestly most of the people that get in trouble for cannabis or anything that's deemed an illegal substance is low income,” said Zac Halonen, one of about 20 local vendors at the convention.
Cameron Taylor, another Big Psych board member, said he’s expecting some challenges with legalizing psychedelic mushrooms. “You’re going to have your naysayers but one of the things that will be beneficial is the work I’m seeing done with veterans and people suffering with PTSD,” said Taylor.
For Harcus, the end goal is decriminalizing all drugs. With adult-use cannabis legalized in Minnesota, he said psychedelics are next.
“Legalizing cannabis this year was a major step to ending the war against people who use drugs,” said Harcus. “And right now, a large segment of the public, they’re in favor of legalizing psychedelics. But those of us who are really about ending this war want the cessation of criminalization of all drugs. So this is just one more step towards that.”