Washington: Jefferson County Board of Commissioners passes resolution in support of decriminalizing entheogens

Update via the Port Townsend Psychedelic Society

Jefferson County Board of Commissioners passes resolution in support of decriminalizing entheogens!

We have now achieved a trifecta of local level resolutions:

Jefferson County Board of Health Resolution (July 2021)

Port Townsend City Council Resolution (Dec 2021)

Jefferson County Board of Commissioners Resolution (just passed! May of 2023)

And while state level legislation is still needed to truly achieve full local level decriminalization, this is a huge step forward for our community!

Thank you Commissioners Heidi, Kate, and Greg for leading the way on this issue and listening so wholeheartedly to your community. We also very much appreciated Sheriff Joe Nole and Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy attending the meeting last week to provide their input. We are so thankful to live in a community where these discussions could be had with such openness, mutual respect, and care.

And deep gratitude to this community for supporting PTPS, supporting one another, and for helping lead the way in engaging with entheogens with integrity. We’re scoping out the calendar for a potluck celebration in the next month or two so please join us when that happens!

To get a full sense of the importance of this moment in our county, we highly recommend you watch the following Jefferson County Board of Commissioners Meetings:

 (from 9:00-9:30am and again from 10:30am until just after 11am)

April 24th (from 9am until 11am).

 Noteworthy quotes from the meeting: 

I feel like community is the theme for me as a commissioner and this issue is showing up in spades in terms of our community. And I hear all of you and feel what you’re saying and hope that we can be leaders on this horizon in not only in our county community but in the state by taking a stand for something that’s right. Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour

The thing that excites me most about joining our colleagues in the room here on this path going forward is that we have the ability to change the way that we interact with nature around the use of these entheogens. And I think that in my mind being the eternal optimist, I think that this could bring a path for us to have more respect for nature in the future. And I look forward to doing that work with you in the future…I’ve spent my life dependent on and immersed in nature and have learned so much from it and have tried to find ways as I move through the world to grant it the respect that it deserves. And I feel like this is a continuation of that work for me. Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour

We’re at the very beginning of a major shift in consciousness that the good work of folks here and others have been working on for years, have been fertilizing. So I get that it’s coming to governmental channels in the early stages of that. Some would say this is performative because local government doesn’t have a lot of say in this and yet I think it’s OK to be putting that stake in the ground and saying this is something we believe, knowing that this is going to transform how a lot of mental health work is done. And we work through a state and federal system. So just to say, this is a moment in time that we hope to be saying we want to be on the right side of history. Commissioner Kate Dean 

I just want to point out that it’s really interesting to hear consensus from a really diverse group of people, to see that we have younger folks, we have older folks, we have vets, we have health care providers, we have the interfaith community represented. It’s unusual that you have such a diversity of voices coming together and that makes our job a lot easier, so good job building a coalition. And…we understand right now how much isolation really drives a lot of illnesses within our social order. And so clearly, you’ve been addressing that, too, by creating a community to overcome isolation. So, it feels like an important and yet somehow easy lift when we have the kind of diverse support we have to take a strong, a bold action. Commissioner Kate Dean

I think this is another area that really brings medicine to the people in a way that it is supposed to be, in the way so it can serve the people rather than the other way around. Commissioner Greg Brotherton

Next steps in the advocacy world:

Please note that while regulated facilitated sessions with psilocybin are on track to be legalized in Washington State within the next few years (similar to Oregon), our right to gift, gather, grow, and have agency in terms of how we choose to work with these plants and fungi on our own or in community is very much up in the air

So, in addition to our local efforts, we also need to focus our attention towards state level efforts, particularly over the next few years 

Towards that end, we want to let you know about another organization that shares PTPS values (two of their board members are also part of PTPS): REACH Washington (Responsible Entheogen Access and Community Healing

They are working at the state level to achieve decriminalization of natural psychedelic plants and fungi and just launched their first draft Voter Initiative for 2024.

Additionally, REACH WA’s first town hall meeting will be via Zoom on May 18th from 6-7pm; please join if you can as your feedback is crucial in helping make this voter initiative a true representation of the needs and aspirations of our state.


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