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Minneapolis Mayor orders police to stop arrests for psychedelics

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MINNEAPOLIS— Today, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey signed an Executive Order supporting entheogenic (psychoactive) plant practices and ordering law enforcement to deprioritize investigating and arresting those who use these plant compounds. This is the mayor’s first executive order in 2023 and his fifth since the new government structure took effect.  

Executive Order 2023-01 requires the investigation and arrest of people planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, and engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds to be the lowest priority for law enforcement in Minneapolis.  

The order also states that City resources should not be knowingly used in any investigation, detention, or arrest airing out of alleged violations of state and federal law for engaging in the above activities.  

“Regardless of the stigma attached, when you look at the science behind the benefits of entheogens, it all points in one direction,” said Mayor Frey. “Experts are telling us that these plants help people, and that’s the business we should be in – helping people. With a rise in deaths of despair in our city, and in our society, the data is showing that these plants can help be a remedy. That’s the message I hope this executive order sends elsewhere.” 

Scientific and clinical studies have shown that Entheogenic Plants have helped people with chronic depression, severe anxiety, addiction, post-traumatic stress, and other physical and mental conditions. The plants have also been found to alleviate treatment-resistant cases of opiate and methamphetamine addiction at higher rates than other treatments. However, many individuals who use these plants fear arrest and prosecution due to current legal prohibitions.  

As included in the order, entheogenic plants are defined as the full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials and/or their extracted compounds, limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, and phenethylamines; including, but not limited to, psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca tea, mescaline, and iboga, that can benefit psychological and physical wellness and well-being. 

“I recognize that many of our community members see benefits in using these natural substances for health or religious purposes, and with this Executive Order, Mayor Frey has directed the Minneapolis Police Department to join agencies nationwide in continuing to deemphasize law enforcement activities related to use of entheogenic plants,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara. “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.” 

“This is an important first step to undo all the harms inflicted from the war on people who use drugs, which was created to target brown and black peoples,” said Jessica Nielson, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota and founding member of the DecriMN Coalition. “These natural medicines and their use by Indigenous peoples predate any of these laws. Individual liberty over one’s own health and consciousness is essential to a well community, as is the community healing that can occur with these entheogens.”   

“A generation ago these plants were carelessly condemned as part of the broader war on drugs. Science now knows better, and policymakers ought to respond by regulating these in a different way,” said Council Member Andrew Johnson, Ward 12. “Deprioritization is a great step, and it’s exciting to see Minneapolis among the leading cities [nationally] calling for a commonsense approach in light of all the data.” 

Through the Executive Order, Minneapolis will join several other jurisdictions throughout the country that have deprioritized the use of government resources in the enforcement and prosecution of activities related to the possession and use of some or all entheogenic plants. Those jurisdictions include Oakland, California; San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Detroit, Michigan; Seattle, Washington; Washington D.C.; and the state of Oregon. 

Executive Order 2023-21 does not legalize any unlawful activities related to Entheogenic Plants. It also does not authorize or enable, or apply to the enforcement or prosecution of: 

  • The commercial sales or manufacturing of these plants or fungi 
  • Possessing or distributing these materials in schools 
  • Possessing or distributing these materials while driving, operating, or being in physical control of a motor vehicle or possessing a weapon while under the influence of these materials   

The Executive Order applies to every City of Minneapolis department, including but not limited to, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minneapolis Department of Health, and any agency, division, commission, committee, board, or other body or person established by the authority of a City of Minneapolis ordinance or resolution, City Council order, or executive order. Any exemption to this Executive Order would only be if there is the information required by statute, regulation, order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or lawfully issued judicial warrant of a court of competent jurisdiction. 

At the state level  

This legislative session, the State of Minnesota created a Psychedelic Medicine Task Force to help prepare the state for possible legalization. The task force will advise the legislature on the legal, medical, and policy issues surrounding the legalization of psychedelic medicine in the state. 

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