Petition to the Philadelphia City Council Requesting the Decriminalization of Entheogenic Plants and Fungi

Cindy Bass, Chair, Public Health and Human Services Committee (PHHSC); David Oh, Vice Chair, PHHSC; Curtis Jones, Jr., Chair, Public Safety Committee (PSC); Kenyatta Johnson, Vice Chair (PSC)

The Philadelphia chapter of Decriminalize Nature encourages Philadelphia residents to sign this petition in favor of creating a local bubble of provisional legal protection for those who would like to use natural entheogens for personal healing and psycho-spiritual growth, in accordance with our First Amendment rights under the US Constitution.  

Entheogens, translated as "manifesting the divine nature within", have been used by humans around the world for thousands of years for healing psychological ailments such as trauma, depression, and addiction; as a spiritual practice; and as a way for humans to connect with nature.

Along with numerous anecdotes from high-profile public figures such as Michael Pollan, Tim Ferriss, and innumerable others, dozens of studies over decades from highly credentialed scientific research institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Imperial College London, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, et al. are reinforcing the reality of their effectiveness in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and drug addiction, anxiety, depression, and other widespread social problems.  

A November 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, found that half of patients experienced remission of their major depression after only two psilocybin therapy sessions, making it four times more effective than standard anti-depression medications.

The US government has spent hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars over the last several decades in the war on drugs, including an estimated $25.5 billion in 2015 alone.  Drug addiction treatment costs the US an additional $600 billion annually.  

Despite these costly efforts, nearly 841,000 people in the US have died of drug overdoses over roughly the last two decades, including 70,000 in 2019 alone, according to the most currently available data. Opioids accounted for more than 70% of drug overdoses that year.

Philadelphia is considered one of the epicenters of the opioid crisis, where 1,150 individuals died of drug overdoses in 2019, 80% of which involved opioids.  

Philadelphia also suffers from having the highest murder rate per capita among the 10 largest cities in the US.  

Mental health issues are also plaguing our veterans, 270 of whom took their own lives in 2019 in Pennsylvania alone.  

The mental health, drug addiction, and violence problems ravaging our community have intensified during the coronavirus pandemic.  

We believe that the decriminalization of entheogenic tools in the city would be part of the much-needed community healing of the entrenched intergenerational pain and suffering that many of the marginalized communities in the city lack access to receiving.

Decriminalize Nature Philadelphia endeavors to follow other major cities across the country--including Denver, Oakland, Portland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Washington DC--in creating legal protection from federal laws that have since the early 1970s made it a felony offense to use natural entheogens even for the purpose of healing. This is an important opportunity to demonstrate that such community-based initiatives can succeed in addressing some of the mental health issues plaguing our country and the first of several steps toward policy reform at the state and federal levels, with Oregon and California leading the way.  

You can support this initiative by reviewing our resolution and its supporting scientific documentation here and by signing on to our petition to the appropriate committee leaders on the Philadelphia City Council.      

Sponsored by

To: Cindy Bass, Chair, Public Health and Human Services Committee (PHHSC); David Oh, Vice Chair, PHHSC; Curtis Jones, Jr., Chair, Public Safety Committee (PSC); Kenyatta Johnson, Vice Chair (PSC)
From: [Your Name]

Dear Philadelphia City Council Members,

We urgently request that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of individuals engaging in the use of entheogenic plants and fungi for psychological and/or spiritual healing and growth be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Philadelphia, per Decriminalize Nature Philadelphia's resolution. We also request that Philadelphia City Council members exhort the Pennsylvania state legislature to recognize and protect the right of local jurisdictions to permit their residents to engage in community healing ceremonies involving the use of entheogenic plants and fungi without fear of arrest and prosecution when practiced in accordance with safe practice guidelines and principles established by these communities.