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First Weed, Now Magic Mushrooms? Aldermen To Discuss Decriminalizing Psychedelic Fungi

Today, Chicago aldermen are scheduled to weigh whether to take the first step toward decriminalizing magic mushrooms and peyote.

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CITY HALL — Less than a month after Illinois lawmakers legalized marijuana, Chicago aldermen are scheduled to weigh whether to take the first step toward decriminalizing magic mushrooms and peyote.

The City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations is set to consider a non-binding resolution (R2019-735) at its meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday that calls for the Chicago Police Department to make enforcing federal laws that ban drugs with psilocybin its lowest priority.

The measure, authored by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), also calls on city health officials to prepare a report designed to help residents learn about evidence that the drugs can help those suffering from terminal cancer, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A 2017 study published in the journal Nature showed that 47 percent of patients treated with psilocybin for severe depression improved after five weeks.

The federal government lists psilocybin as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning officials have determined that the range of fungi and cacti species that naturally contain psilocybin, a hallucinogenic, have no medicinal properties.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in 2018 called for removing psilocybin from the list of Schedule I substances.

Chicago decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2012, eight years before Illinois passed a law legalizing the sale of recreational cannabis.

In May, Denver became the first American city to decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms, followed in June by Oakland, Calif.

Similar efforts are underway in Oregon to put the question to voters via a referendum, and in Iowa, a Republican state representative introduced a measure that would legalize the use of hallucinogenic drugs derived from plants.

Aldermen are also set to consider a measure (O2019-97) from Mayor Lori Lightfoot that would change the makeup of the city’s Commission on Human Relations, which is charged with enforcing the Chicago HumanRights Ordinance and the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance.

The proposal would require the mayor to appoint one member from five advisory councils, including a newly created council to focus solely on LGTBQ+ issues, to the 15-member commission. All members are appointed by the mayor.

The current rules provide for one advisory council to cover issues of concern to gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and questioning Chicagoans as well as women. The other advisory councils focus on equity, veterans and new Americans.

Six appointments to those advisory councils are also up for a vote Tuesday:

  • A2020-2A2020-3 — Esther Nieves and Victor Dickson to the Advisory Council on Equity
  • A2020-4 — Jackie Kaplan-Perkins to the Advisory Council on Women
  • A2020-5 — Butch Trusty to the Advisory Council on LGBTQ+ Issues
  • A2020-6 — Emanuel Johnson II to the Advisory Council on Veterans
  • A2020-7 — Karina Ayala-Bermejo to the Advisory Council on New Americans.

Aldermen are also scheduled to hold a hearing (R2019-688) called for by Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22) to determine whether local government agencies “concerned with juvenile justice” are complying with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child and Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.