Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has ordered the city’s police to deprioritize enforcement of laws regarding psychedelic substance use. This means that possessing, using, and cultivating psychedelics for personal use is the lowest law enforcement priority in the city, and local taxpayer money will not be used to fund federal and state efforts to crack down on these substances.
Mayor Frey issued the Deprioritizing Enforcement of Entheogenic Plants order on July 21, 2023. The executive order recognizes that several entheogens have been shown to alleviate mental health conditions due to evidence from scientific and clinical trials. It also admits these substances as “beneficial to the health and well-being of individuals and communities in addressing these conditions.”
The new order does not legalize the use of entheogenic plants but instead decriminalizes it for personal use. According to the executive order,
“Plants or plant compounds which are on the federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Minneapolis; and unless required by law, City resources shall not knowingly be used in any investigation, detention, or arrest arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law for engaging in the above-referenced activities.”
Commercial sales of these substances, possessing or distributing them in schools, operating a motor vehicle, or possessing a weapon will remain illegal and persecuted by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara supports Frey’s order despite criticism from other law enforcement officials, “I stand with the mayor in support of this action and will ensure the MPD continues to maintain the safety of all residents and community members.”
Entheogens are naturally occurring fungi and plant compounds that have psychedelic effects, such as psilocybin mushrooms and other hallucinogens like iboga, mescaline, and ayahuasca. These substances exist naturally and have been historically used by indigenous groups worldwide for spiritual and healing purposes.
Peyote, also an entheogen, is prohibited from many of these laws, including this recent Minnealopis executive order, due to legal protections under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA).
The use of psychedelic plants and fungi has shown therapeutic potential in treating various mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, addiction disorders, and chronic depression. Multiple studies have found that along with therapy, these substances can work just as well, if not better and longer lasting than traditional medications and therapy.
Although modern science has validated the therapeutic potential of entheogens, the traditional use of these substances by indigenous groups significantly predates our current scientific understanding. The decriminalization of entheogens not only recognizes the historical significance of these drugs but also demonstrates a major shift in perspective in drug policy across the United States.
Psychedelic substances have already been legalized for therapeutic use and decriminalized for personal use in the state of Oregon and Colorado. Furthermore, several cities such as Detroit, Denver, Washington D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco have also followed suit with decriminalization measures.
Although psychedelic drugs are still illegal in the state of Minnesota, the city of Minneapolis has taken a progressive step forward by decriminalizing psychedelics, even in the absence of statewide support. And despite Minnesota’s current legal stance on psychedelic substances, the state has demonstrated a gradual shift towards a reformed drug policy that mirrors the efforts of other states and cities across America.
Earlier this year, the governor of Minnesota signed several bills aimed at preparing the state for the possible legalization of psychedelics. The measures are meant to establish a Psychedelic Medicine Task Force that would be in charge of advising lawmakers about any conflicts associated with legalizing psychedelic medicine in Minnesota. The task force is required to look into any existing research on psychedelic substances and their ability and safety to treat mental health conditions.
Governor Tim Walz also signed off a bill to create grants for harm reduction services, making Minnesota the second U.S. state to permit overdose prevention centers (OPCs). These centers would allow individuals to use currently illegal drugs in a controlled environment that is medically supervised by trained professionals, effectively reducing the risk of infections and overdose. They have been proven to significantly reduce the risk of drug overdoses and have saved several lives, keeping drug users in safe environments rather than on the streets. OPCs connect individuals with addiction services and provide voluntary treatment to those who request it.
Minneapolis’s more lenient approach towards psychedelic drugs seems to be only the beginning of Minnesota’s updating drug reform. Minnesota has recently become the 23rd state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, demonstrating an eased attitude toward drug policy reform. This shift in perspective is evident in the state’s willingness to reassess current drug policies to align with changing attitudes toward controlled substances. As Minnesota explores potential psychedelic reforms, it will continue to address drug use from the perspective of public health and harm reduction.
The new executive order in Minneapolis is a big step in recognizing and addressing drug-related problems within the city. By decriminalizing psychedelic substances for personal use, the city is taking a progressive stance toward reducing the criminalization and stigma surrounding individuals who use these substances. This move ultimately acknowledges that a punitive approach to drug use is ineffective and counterproductive. By shifting away from strict criminalization efforts, Minneapolis is demonstrating that drug-related issues require a varied approach that focuses more on access to treatment, harm reduction, and education. Though more research, regulations, and support systems will be needed to fully ensure the safety of these substances, psychedelic users in Minneapolis no longer have to fear intense legal repercussions for consuming these drugs for personal use.