Cambridge, Massachusetts has decriminalized psychedelics and adopted a number of other drug-law reforms. On February 3, the City Council passed a decrim resolution that makes the possession or use of psychedelic drugs among the city’s lowest priorities. The measure also calls for the county district attorney to stop prosecuting people for the use or possession of any controlled substance.
Cambridge is the second city in Massachusetts to decriminalize psychedelics after Somerville passed a similar resolution in January.
So, is the modern day psychedelic revolution upon us? Kind of. A number of cities around the country have enacted psychedelic-law reform recently, including Oakland, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor. But for the most part, decrim efforts have been limited to the city level. However, voters in Washington, D.C. passed a decriminalization ballot measure in November. And voter-approved initiatives to decriminalize all drugs and legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes passed in Oregon on Election Day.
In addition to decriminalizing psychedelic drugs, the measure passed by the Cambridge City Council bars the city government from using revenue to “assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of entheogenic plants by adults.”
Interestingly, it also requires any of the city’s staff working with the state or federal government to push for decrim of psychedelics at that level.
The measure acknowledges that “criminalizing users” is “neither a just or effective legal approach.” It states in part, “Drug policy in the United States and the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has historically led to unnecessary penalization, arrest, and incarceration of vulnerable people, particularly people of color and of limited financial means, instead of prioritizing harm-reduction policies that treat drug abuse as an issue of public health.”