Santa Cruz, CA, the third city in the U.S to decriminalize a broad range of psychedelic plants and fungi, rolled back the law’s provision on peyote, effectively recriminalizing the cactus, reported Marijuana Moment.
The City Council voted last month to remove peyote and other mescaline-containing cacti from the municipality’s decriminalization policy, citing pushback from Indigenous people who consider the plant sacred.
Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, said she was contacted by members of the community who requested to roll back the legislation “urgently”.
“The Tribal communities were really challenged with how the resolution was adopted in the past, and there was a sense of urgency to move this through pretty quickly,” Kalantari-Johnson added.
Cities and states have decriminalized psychedelics in the past year. For example, Oregon decriminalized psychedelics last November, becoming the first state to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the active ingredient in more than 100 species of psychedelic mushrooms.
However, these regulatory changes inevitably mean an increase in demand for psychedelics that can affect the preservation of psychedelic cacti, such as Peyote.
In this context, the National Council of Native American Churches (NCNAC) and the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI) wants psychedelic cacti, specifically peyote, removed from decriminalization efforts. They want it to remain illegal to use in order to protect it.
NCNAC is composed of the presidents of the four largest and oldest umbrella Native American Churches, representing approximately 200 chapters and as many as45 tribal groups. IPCI is a conservation organization, operating in the United States, Canada and Mexico, is focused on protecting peyote and the ‘Peyote way of life’.
In a letter, the groups said that “This conservation effort includes regulatory and legal measures designed to ensure biocultural conservation. It is important this effort not be interrupted or diluted.”
According to the letter “Individual, state or local decriminalization efforts that include peyote can be disruptive to the nation-wide strategy driven by Native American people to protect, conserve and ensure the spiritual and ecological sustainability of peyote.”
Decriminalize Santa Cruz (DSC), an organization that helped pass the original measure that included peyote, released a statement in which the group apologized for their lack of cultural sensitivity surrounding the Peyote cacti.
“When Decriminalize Nature Oakland (DNO) first decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi in June 2019, we were inspired to repeat their success in our town of Santa Cruz. The organizers of DSC copied DNO’s resolution verbatim and presented it to Santa Cruz City Council (...) However, we were insular in our activism and did not consider the harm we may
cause to Indigenous communities who have been using this sacred plant medicine for millennia,” DNO wrote in a statement.
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