Frey issues executive order to ‘deprioritize enforcement’ of certain psychedelics
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey issued an executive order Friday morning that orders all city departments – including law enforcement – to “deprioritize enforcement of entheogenic plants”, also known as psychedelics.
According to the order, the arrest or investigation of anyone who may be planting, moving, distributing or using certain products such as plants, fungi and their natural materials – or compounds from those products- should be the lowest law enforcement priority within the city. In addition, resources in the city won’t be used for alleged violations for the drugs unless required by law.
It goes on to say a higher priority in the city is the increase in opioid substance use disorder.
The plant compounds named within the order include the following:
- indole amines
- phenethylamines including psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca tea, mescaline and iboga
Frey’s order says the usage of entheogenic plants helps with the “health and well-being” of anyone who suffers from chronic depression, severe anxiety, problematic substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, end-of-life anxiety, grief, intergenerational trauma and more.
Frey issued the following prepared statement after he signed the order:
“Regardless of the stigma attached, when you look at the science behind the benefits of entheogens, it all points in one direction. 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.”Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey
His order cites entheogenic practices of some groups – such as Native Americans and two churches, the Santo Daime congregation and the Uniao do Vegetal – are protected under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, respectively.
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara also issued a prepared statement following the signing:
“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. 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.”Chief O’Hara
Frey’s office emphasizes the order doesn’t legalize unlawful activities related to the plants, and doesn’t authorize, enable or apply the enforcement or prosecution of the following :
- Commercial sales or manufacturing of the plants or fungi
- Possessing or distributing materials in schools
- Possessing or distributing materials while driving, operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle or possessing a weapon while under the influence of the plants, fungi or compounds
Some health professionals are voicing concerns about the plan.
“I think we’re in trouble,” said Drew Horowitz, CEO at Horowitz Health.
Horowitz has worked as an addiction counselor and mental health consultant for 15 years and worries that loosening enforcement of psychedelic drugs will lead to increased recreational use.
“The problem is, when you’re under a hallucinogen, you see things that aren’t real,” Horowitz said. “Have you ever heard of the term ‘bad trip?’ People have these bad experiences where the substance just doesn’t resonate well with them and they have an adverse reaction. If they’re not in a controlled setting, we put the community at risk.”
He believes mood- or mind-altering drugs should only be used under the guidance of a health professional.
“We see people take these substances and end up in inpatient psychiatric settings. We see them harm themselves, we see them harm others. There’s an increased level of paranoia and anxiety,” Horowitz said. “I have a lot of nervousness and fear around endorsing and exposing individuals to more substance use than we already have. We’re moving in a direction that I, as a health care professional, am extremely worried about.”
Horowitz said the mental health system is already maxed out.
“It’s not the right time to introduce something like this. We have the legalization of marijuana coming August 1st and now, with them turning a blind eye to psychedelics, we already have extensive crime, our hospitals are overflowing, there’s no mental health beds open,” Horowitz explained. “A decision like this should undergo much more in-depth research. There should be a council that consults on it with people like me that are able to show the risk that this actually does pose to our community.”
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked Mayor Frey to respond to these concerns.
“I think the concerns raised are fair concerns and certainly we can have that debate but, as far as prioritization, I think we’re doing the right thing,” he said.
You can read the full order below.