Entheogenic Plants Decriminalized in Santa Cruz

City Council passes resolution unanimously

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Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi in Santa Cruz on Jan. 28, becoming the third city to do so in the United States. The resolution decriminalizes the use of certain psychedelic plants for people aged 21 and older and puts the possession and use of psychedelics at the lowest priority for the Santa Cruz Police Department. 

“I’m proud to be working with local government and working with the community to be able to do these things because I think they don’t only affect our local community, they also set a precedent for other communities to follow,” said local advocate Pat Malo. 

Decriminalize Santa Cruz, a political organizing group founded by UC Santa Cruz students Julian Hodge* and Sean Cutler, along with Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings, spearheaded the campaign. 

The Santa Cruz Public Safety Committee approved the resolution in November 2019 before it went to City Council. Advocates, who have worked to bring the resolution to a vote since June, emphasized the benefits of entheogens and psychedelics throughout the campaigning process. 

“Studies have shown [entheogens] have changed people’s outlook, and have helped them get through addiction and overcome it,” said Decriminalize Santa Cruz member Jackie Orman. “And same with depression, especially for me, it changed my life completely. I was depressed and it just completely gave me a new outlook on life and see that life is worth living and I just want that for other people too.” 

*Hodge is a staff member for City on a Hill Press.