Psilocybe cyanescens, a type of psychedelic mushroom common to our area | Photo: Caleb Brown via Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons License.


If you’re passionate about the use of psychedelics, you’ll want to tune into the upcoming Arcata City Council meeting during which the council will vote on a resolution that would decriminalize the use of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline and other entheogenic plants and fungi in Arcata.

The resolution, brought before the council by local advocacy group Decriminalize Nature Humboldt, would declare that “the investigation and arrest of individuals twenty-one (21) years of age and older involved with the adult personal use, cultivation and possession of entheogenic plants and fungi listed on the Federal Schedule 1 list, not be a priority for the City of Arcata.”

The resolution already came before the council in July and seemed to have a lot of community support. More than a dozen community members lined up during public comment to share their own experiences with psychedelics helping them overcome anxiety, depression or drug addiction. Cyrus Meyers, a veteran who served in Iraq, said that psychedelics helped him through his PTSD from the war.

“One experience with psychedelics 14 hours later changed my life,” Meyers said during the July 21 meeting. “ I stopped my use of methamphetamines, coke and any other kind of speed and it’s been 11 years since I [got] clean, coming up on 12. I’m a firm believer that psychedelics gave me the opportunity to view my life as an observer rather than a participant.”

Other commenters focused more on the spiritual growth they experienced with the use of entheogens.

“Just in my own case, there I was at UC San Diego, tripping balls, and I realized I was a Buddhist,” Arcata resident Stewart Richlin said to the council. “And then years later I was making love with this girl who became 10,000 women and I realized I was with my future wife… These substances literally give you access to an infinite font of religious clarity, wisdom, nature and — what I think our founding fathers would have said — the creator or God.”

Arcata City Council discusses the resolution in July (back when the mask mandate had been briefly lifted) | Screenshot from video of the July 21 meeting

The reactions of the council were mixed. 

Councilmember Sarah Schaefer — who placed the item on the agenda — and Councilmember Emily Goldstein both voiced complete support for the resolution, while Mayor Brett Watson and Councilmember Stacy Atkins-Salazar had some reservations. Councilmember Atkins-Salazar said that although she appreciated the stories from the community, she still had some concerns about the safety surrounding the use of psychedelics.

“I think a really important part about what you guys were talking about is that you had positive experiences because you must have had the right guidance and teachings and surroundings in which to do that,” Atkins-Salazar said to the crowd. “On personal accounts I have experienced — not myself but through other people — some very negative things when these types of medicines go wrong … and there can be very serious consequences.”

Councilmembers Schaefer said that, although she understood concerns around safety, she felt that there are other more dangerous drugs in the community that are legal. “I think psilocybin is a lot safer than Xanax or Valium or alcohol, for that matter. So I don’t think that’s really the scary concern here,” she said.

Mayor Watson said that he was not opposed to the decriminalization, but that he felt he needed more information before passing a resolution.

Ultimately, the council requested that the resolution be sent to the Public Safety Committee for review. After public review, the committee voted to support the resolution, recommending that the council add a stipulation that it is for “personal and private use” and include an educational component.

Working with a small group from Decriminalize Nature Humboldt, city staff reviewed and made edits to the resolution, which the council will consider during its Wednesday meeting. This will be the first time the resolution comes before Councilmember Meredith Matthews, who was appointed shortly after the July 21 meeting.

The Arcata City Council meets on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. You can view the full agenda and directions on how to participate here.


PREVIOUSLY: With Push From New Nonprofit, Arcata City Council Will Soon Consider a Resolution That Would Decriminalize Psychedelic Plants and Fungi in Arcata