The City of West Hollywood will host a free Community Educational Forum about the possible state-level decriminalization of mushrooms (Psilocybin) and certain hallucinogenic drugs. The Forum will feature a moderated panel discussion with experts in mental health, legislation, and drug policy reform.
The Community Educational Forum will take place on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. The event is free and open to the public; no advance RSVP is required. There will be limited validated parking available in the adjacent Five-Story West Hollywood Park structure.
The Forum will also be available for viewing on WeHoTV. Broadcast will be provided in West Hollywood on Spectrum Channel 10; the Forum will be streamed on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube channel www.youtube.com/wehotv and on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Roku streaming platforms by searching for “WeHoTV” using search functions.
“Psilocybin has proven to have a number of positive effects to help the brain to ease depression, anxiety, and much more,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John M. Erickson. “This forum will highlight these positive impacts, look at new policies that can be implemented to help at the local, statewide, and federal levels, and – much like West Hollywood did prior to the legalization of cannabis – continue the City of West Hollywood’s longstanding tradition of being at the forefront of examining medicines and their future uses.”
Community Educational Forum panelists will include:
- Eva Altobelli, M.D., Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology who specializes in psychedelic and addiction psychiatry, and founder & CEO of Home-LA, a clinician-run, transformational healing center committed to providing a safe and supportive environment, specializing in Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy, Pharmacology and Addiction Treatment.
- Sgt. Terry Blevins, Board Member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), a nonprofit including police, prosecutors, judges, corrections officials, and other law enforcement officials advocating for criminal justice and drug policy reforms that seek to make communities safer and more just.
- Joshua Kappel, Esq., founding partner of Vicente LLP, where he has helped shaped cannabis and psychedelic policies while representing leading companies in these emerging fields. Kappel co-authored Colorado’s Natural Medicine Health Act ballot initiative, which was passed by the voters in 2022.
The panel discussion will be moderated by Jackie Subeck, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Hey Jackpot, a West Hollywood-based cannabis consulting firm with clients nationwide. Subeck played a role in the passage of 2016’s California Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized adult cannabis use in the state and has worked closely with cities including Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood to develop licensing and regulations that are fair, equitable, and inclusive of everyone. Subeck is also co-producer of this Community Educational Forum.
Psilocybin, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms,” “mushrooms,” or “shrooms,” is a chemical obtained from certain types of fresh or dried mushrooms. Psilocybin is naturally occurring and is typically consumed for its hallucinogenic effects. It is part of a group of drugs known as psychedelics, which trigger changes in perception, mood, and thought.
Psilocybin, like some other psychedelics, has been used for centuries within certain indigenous cultures as a healing agent during rituals and religious ceremonies. In the 1950s and ’60s, there was some scientific research conducted into the benefits of psychedelics when administered in the context of psychotherapy. Political backlash and the onset of the government’s war on drugs in the 1970s forced much of this research to come to an end.
Modern research has reignited an interest in the use of psychedelics, including psilocybin, as an effective treatment for a broad range of health issues. It is believed that psilocybin has the potential to treat a range of psychiatric and behavioral disorders, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, smoking cessation and other addictions, cocaine addiction, and cancer-related or other end-of-life psychological distress.
Psilocybin, like cannabis, is a Schedule 1 substance under the 1970s federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This means that psilocybin is characterized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” As a result, and like cannabis, its use is illegal under Federal law.
In 2019, Denver became the first city in the nation to pass an ordinance to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms for personal use. In 2020, voters in Oregon approved ballot measures to legalize and regulate psilocybin therapy and to decriminalize drug possession more broadly. Since then, voters in Oakland, California and Washington, D.C. have taken similar actions.
There have been attempts to bring similar decriminalization ballot measures forward in California. Decriminalize California is a group attempting to bring forward a state-level initiative in California. The effort failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for November 2022, but the group has said it will continue its efforts. On December 16, 2022, California State Senator Scott Wiener re-introduced a bill (SB 58, Controlled substances: decriminalization of certain hallucinogenic substances) that would decriminalize the possession and personal use of certain psychedelic drugs. The following substances are included in SB 58: psilocybin, psilocyn, Dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”), mescaline (excluding peyote), and ibogaine. Prior, in 2021, Senator Wiener’s psychedelics decriminalization legislation (SB 519), passed the Senate and the two Assembly Committees but was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
In August 2022, the West Hollywood City Council adopted a Resolution declaring offenses related to psilocybin mushrooms are a low enforcement priority. In the City of West Hollywood, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station has not prioritized enforcing psilocybin mushroom-related offenses and there have been no recent arrests for these offenses locally.
For more information about the Community Educational Forum, please contact Hernan Molina, City of West Hollywood Governmental Affairs Liaison, at (323) 848-6364 or at [email protected].