Thanks to the efforts of activist group Decriminalize Nature, cities across the United States have decriminalized the possession of mushrooms containing psilocybin. From Oakland, CA to nearby Northampton, MA, city councils have voted unanimously to direct law enforcement to essentially ignore people who possess psychedelic mushrooms. Plus, the entire state of Oregon legalized shrooms via a ballot initiative in 2020.
Thus far, however, no state has yet decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms via the legislative process. Perhaps New Hampshire will be the first with HB 1349, a bill that proposes to make the possession of up to 12 grams of psilocybin mushrooms a mere violation with a $100 fine, instead of a felony.
It’s easy to be skeptical that such a change can happen here in New Hampshire, given the state was slow to decriminalize cannabis, but finally did in 2017. However, the tide is shifting on the issue of psilocybin mushrooms. The reason that city councils are voting unanimously to decriminalize shrooms is because they really do help a lot of people with serious mental problems like PTSD and depression. The studies on this are numerous and growing. It is hard for city councilors to deny retired military veterans who testify that psilocybin has cured them of PTSD, or people with terminal diseases who will testify that psilocybin has helped them be at ease with death. Plus, it has long been known that psilocybin mushrooms are safe to use, even compared with cannabis.
As I pointed out in my testimony in front of the state house Criminal Justice committee on Wednesday, the most relevant thing they should consider is that the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in December of 2020 that using psilocybin mushrooms for religious reasons is legal in New Hampshire. Jeremy Mack was arrested for possession of psilocybin mushrooms and convicted in Superior Court. He appealed, arguing it was his right, as a member of the Oklevueha Native American Church to use psilocybin as part of his religion.
In a UNANIMOUS decision, the NH supremes overturned Mack’s conviction, pointing out that the New Hampshire constitution has stronger religious freedom protections than the United States constitution. While the US constitution protects the right to religion, the NH constitution protects your right to worship God how you choose:
Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and reason; and no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession, sentiments, or persuasion; provided he doth not disturb the public peace or disturb others in their religious worship. -Article 5, NH Constitution Bill of Rights
Given this amazing court decision, the religious use of psilocybin mushrooms is already fully legal in New Hampshire. Now the legislature should catch up and stop the police from even arresting psilocybin users at all, by passing HB 1349. I am optimistic for its chances. At the hearing on Wednesday, the only person who spoke against the bill was a drug warrior from the NH State Police, who trotted out the usual scare tactics of “DANGER” and “THE CHILDREN”. Though by pointing out that his kids told him shrooms are available for sale in their school, he inadvertently admits the abject failure of his precious War on Drugs.
Here’s the full hearing video:
If you live in New Hampshire and want to help this bill get passed, please reach out to the Criminal Justice committee via this group email: HouseCriminalJusticeandPublicSafety@leg.state.nh.us and ask them to pass HB 1349.