North Shore city becomes 6th Massachusetts community to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms

SALEM, Mass. — Salem recently became the sixth Massachusetts community to move toward ending arrests involving psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in so-called “magic mushrooms.”

The FDA has classified the psychedelic as a “breakthrough therapy” for depression, after nine members of the Salem City Council voted on May 11 to approve the measure.

Psilocybin is converted by the body into a substance similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin, said Dr. Miyabe Shield, a researcher, and self-described “queer neurodivergent stoner scientist.”

“This is a win for science and the neurodivergent community to advance life-saving research on the complex inner workings of our brains,” said Shield, a Salem resident.

The measure had an unlikely proponent in Lucas Miller, the Chief of Police for the City who endorsed the measure before the city’s final vote. “The indications that psilocybin could be helpful for opiate addiction is something that should not be ignored. We lose about 20 people in Salem a year to opioid overdose.”

Previous communities to adopt similar measures are Cambridge, Somerville, Northampton, Easthampton, and Amherst, according to Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, a group that advocates for decriminalizing plant-derived medicines.

“Our communities deserve access to these plant medicines. From parents to veterans to law enforcement, many different types of people are working through trauma with these gifts of nature. They are becoming more conscientious and compassionate versions of themselves. It’s beautiful,” remarked James Davis, a co-founder of Bay Staters.

The Salem City Council is expected to take another unanimous vote next week, sending the measure to the mayor’s desk.

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