Plant-Based Decriminalization

There is a new day dawning for plant based medicines, friends. The conversation around cannabis and psychedelics has changed vastly in the last decade, and the elections of 2019 have proven it. On May 7th, 2019 the city of Denver voted to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, and on June 5th, 2019 the city of Oakland took it one step further, decriminalizing all plant-based entheogens. But what does that mean for these cities? And what now?

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Denver

In Denver’s case, psilocybin mushrooms have been decriminalized. While this does not mean psilocybin can be found in your neighborhood dispensary and it is still illegal to distribute them, it does mean that psilocybin becomes a low priority issue for law enforcement. They cannot arrest anyone (over the age of 21) for personal possession, consumption, or growth of psilocybin; it also prohibits city funds from being accessed to prosecute such cases.

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Oakland

As for Oakland, they took it one step further than the city of Denver. The voters approved the decriminalization of all plant-based entheogens, which isn’t just limited to psilocybin. This includes mescaline, ayahuasca, dimethyltryptamine as well as a few others. Basically, if it comes from a plant, you can’t get arrested in Oakland for it, and, like in Denver, law enforcement cannot use city funds to prosecute folks 21+ for possession, use or cultivation.

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What now?

So what now? Does this mean magic mushies will be legal soon? In short, no. While Denver and Oakland could in the future decide to put legalization on the ballot, in my opinion, what happens now is a steady paradigm shift in how we view these substances. The consensus around the country in recent years has been that the war on drugs was a failure, and with more and more clinical research being done, as well as powerful anecdotes coming out, public opinion is changing. The very fact that these initiatives not only made it on the ballot in the first place, but passed the first time, is a very good indicator of this. Now that these cities have broken the initial barrier, I think by the end of the summer we’re going to hear about a multitude more cities putting these kinds of initiatives on the ballot. And come next November, I think national conversation on psychedelics will steadily start to become the norm. Colorado and California obviously have unmistakable voting power, and the fact that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill to increase federal research of both cannabis and psilocybin last week is very telling of that. The times, they are a-changin’.

~written by Melinda Gardner~

A Memorial Day Thank-You: Veterans & Cannabis

I mentioned in my last blog, A 2020 Look at Cannabis, that we’re coming back into an election year. And as we celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I can’t help but feel as though those are connected. I talked about constituents wanting greater access to cannabis, and what better constituents than veterans?

Currently, veterans are able to access medical cannabis, but only through their state programs. The VA has stated that it doesn’t have a problem with veteran patients trying out cannabis, however, due to its federal status, physicians are not permitted to recommend, prescribe, fill or pay for prescriptions, or conduct research. Patients also have to declare their medical cannabis use, both so it can go on record as well as be considered in conjunction with other treatment methods. Supposedly, participation in state cannabis programs does not disqualify veterans from their benefits, but considering its federal stance, many are apprehensive to either try it or declare it. Considering the VA’s entire purpose is to be the institution to provide veterans with healthcare, it’s a bit frustrating to me that they won’t advocate or do research. I also imagine that this is for patients who have access to medical cannabis – as far as I understand, if veterans wanted to participate in recreational markets they would not be allowed to do so.


So what option do vets have, other than medical or recreational cannabis? As far as 100% legal options in every state, industrial hemp-derived CBD would be the best bet. The reason I specify industrial hemp is because these plants are specifically bred to be low THC, high CBD – aka purely medicinal. This is also the reason those products are legal to possess, carry over state lines, etc. Even though the VA doesn’t currently support veterans and cannabis, there are a ton of other great organizations getting their hands dirty. A quick Google search for “organizations for veterans and cannabis” yields a ton of different non profits. Additionally, the Colorado-based CBD companies Extract Labs and Colorado Hemp Honey both donate a portion of their proceeds to both veterans and research benefiting them.

Lastly, I’d like to close with a thank you note to our veterans and service members. As a military child, the struggles and sacrifices our service members face is not lost on me. Family members, friends, and peers of mine have all risked their lives, and I’m truly, truly grateful. I hope that in the future our service members have all treatment options available to them. Thank you for your service!

~written by Melinda Gardner~