Psychedelic Science 2020 Webinar Series – Decriminalizing Psychedelics (Online)

April 23, 2020

From the event website:

Decriminalizing Psychedelics

Featuring Sean McAllister, Ismail Ali, J.D., and Natalie Ginsberg, M.S.W.

Thursday, April 23, 2020, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM Pacific

A Balance of Psychedelic Decriminalization Initiatives in the U.S.
The year 2019 was a watershed year for efforts to reform the laws around psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.” Since psilocybin’s categorization in the 1970s as a Schedule I drug under U.S. and international law, reform of laws related to psilocybin and other psychedelics had not been a significant focus of the drug policy reform community. However, in the spring of 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to effectively decriminalize possession and cultivation of personal possession amounts of psilocybin. Oakland quickly followed Denver’s lead and went further by effectively decriminalizing all activities related to naturally occurring or entheogenic psychedelic substances. Also, in 2019, reform advocates in Oregon and California submitted proposed statewide ballot initiatives to allow voters to liberalize psilocybin laws through the 2020 ballot process. This presentation summarizes the various reforms enacted in Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz, along with summarizing the proposed new regulated models in Oregon and California. Sean will discuss the nuances of the various decriminalization initiatives and give a broad overview of typical provisions. Finally, as a member of the Denver Psilocybin Review Panel, Sean will discuss the ongoing issues with the implementation of the Denver Psilocybin decriminalization campaign, including the impacts on public safety and health.

Multidisciplinary Approaches to Psychedelic Systems: Reflections on Policy Strategies

Ismail and Natalie will share ways to think about the current status of psychedelic policy change by identifying themes that unify and differentiate the movements to decriminalize, legalize, and medicalize psychedelic substances. How can we craft systems that can recognize the strengths and honor the differences between clinics and ceremonies, or pharmaceuticals and plant medicine? Why are harm reduction, education, and justice essential to the blueprint for a post-prohibition world? How can these emerging and ongoing movements progress in solidarity with indigenous people and people who have been impacted by the war on drugs?

Sean McAllister is one of nation’s leading drug policy reform lawyers. In 2004, after working for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for several years, Sean opened a solo law practice focused on criminal defense and represented hundreds of people charged with state and federal drug crimes. That same year, he founded the drug policy reform non-profit Sensible Colorado. Sean served as the chair of the Board of Directors of Sensible Colorado while the organization co-chaired the Colorado recreational marijuana legalization campaign that voters passed in 2012. Sean has also worked on broader drug policy reform issues as a member of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Today, Sean’s law firm, McAllister Garfield, P.C., has 15 lawyers in four states working primarily on cannabis business law and licensing matters. As part of his work, Sean’s firm has sued regulators numerous times under the administrative procedures act, petitioned the DEA to reconsider a harmful CBD rule, and represented Native America Tribes attempting to participate in the cannabis and hemp industries. In addition to cannabis, Sean is the General Counsel to the Decriminalize Denver campaign and an appointed member of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which is the first ballot initiative in the U.S. designed to remove criminal penalties for the possession of psilocybin. Sean also acted as a legal advisor to the Decriminalize California campaign, which is seeking to decriminalize and regulate psilocybin mushrooms by ballot initiative in California in 2020. Sean is a member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants and Chacruna’s Co-General Counsel.

Ismail Lourido Ali, J.D., is Policy & Advocacy Counsel for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where he supports the development and implementation of strategies to create legal access to psychedelic substances in medical, sacramental, and personal contexts. Ismail presently sits on the Advisory Committee of the Ayahuasca Defense Fund and has previously served as Chair of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Board of Directors, and has worked for the ACLU of Northern California’s Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Project, as well as for the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he received his J.D.

Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, M.S.W., is the Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where she works to disentangle science from political partisanship, and to create safe, equitable and regulated access to psychedelics, and all criminalized substances. She is also partnering with Israeli and Palestinian colleagues to develop a psychedelic peace-building study. Natalie is particularly inspired by psychedelics’ potential to assist in healing intergenerational trauma, for building empathy and community, and for inspiring creative and innovative solutions. Before joining MAPS in 2014, Natalie worked as a Policy Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, where she helped legalize medical cannabis in her home state of New York, and worked to end New York’s race-based marijuana arrests. Natalie received her B.A. in history from Yale, and her master’s of social work (M.S.W.) from Columbia.

Session Resources

Buy Tickets

Buy Series