Berlin Park Designates ‘Pink Zone’ Areas for Drug Dealers

Kate Connolly, writing for The Guardian:

Drug dealers in Berlin are to be given designated spaces in a city centre park to carry out transactions, leading to criticism that authorities have capitulated to criminal gangs.

For years there has been a heated debate about Görlitzer Park, a popular meeting point in the trendy southern Berlin district of Kreuzberg, which has been attracting an ever increasing number of drug dealers. Local people said they were reluctant to let children and pets roam free there.

After repeated attempts by police to clear the dealers failed, the park manager declared areas where they should be allowed to operate, identified by spray-painted pink boxes.

Cengiz Demirci said the pink zones would mean that visitors to the park – known locally as Görli – were no longer intimidated by groups of dealers, typically men operating in gangs, who crowd the entrance.

What a peculiar approach.

Denver Voters Approve Measure to Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms

Tom Angell, writing for Forbes:

Voters in Denver, Colorado made their city the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms by approving a ballot measure on the issue on Tuesday.

The measure, which was behind in early returns on election night but edged closer with each new batch of ballots counted, ended up pulling ahead with a 51 percent to 49 percent margin in the final unofficial results posted on Wednesday afternoon.

Its provisions prohibit the city government from using any resources to impose criminal penalties against adults over 21 years of age for personal use and possession of psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called "magic mushrooms."

Initiative 301 also specifies that going after people for the mushrooms is the city's “lowest law enforcement priority” and establishes a review panel to assess and report on the effects of the change by early 2021.

This was a thrilling race to follow. All throughout yesterday news outlets were running stories saying that the measure had been defeated, but that was with ~40k votes still remaining to be tallied.

Even though the vote occurred on Tuesday, the last votes weren’t counted until 5PM (Mountain Time) on Wednesday, at which point it was announced that the measure had in fact passed after all—by a thin margin of ~2000 votes.

The Denver Elections Division still needs to verify the final tally, so the official approval of this measure won’t be granted until May 16th. Assuming it goes off without a hitch, Denver will become the first city in the nation to have decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms via ballot initiative. However, it technically won’t be the first place in America where psychedelic fungi are decriminalized—courts in New Mexico and Louisiana previously ruled in favor of allowing the cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms. Up next are Oregon and California, where there are movements hoping to pass their own psilocybin policy reform ballot measures next year.

Regardless of who was first and who will be next, Denver residents should soon be able to possess, use, and grow psilocybin mushrooms without any fear of being criminally charged. This victory is a huge step forward in the fight to reform laws concerning psychedelic drugs and it should be celebrated (in proper fashion, hopefully) by psychonauts everywhere.

1,000-Year-Old Pouch Contains Traces of 5 Ancient Psychoactive Drugs

Peter Hess, writing for Inverse:

Long before ayahuasca became popular among Silicon Valley seekers, it was the domain of specialized healers and spiritual leaders. Archaeologists have long known that ancient peoples throughout the Americas consumed various plant-based drugs to heal, find meaning, and connect to a spiritual world, but research published Monday in PNAS suggests that they were used even more widely than scientists suspected.

In the paper , an international team of archaeologists identified traces of five different psychoactive chemicals in a bundle of belongings dating back to about 1,000 years ago. The objects, found in Cueva del Chileno, a rock shelter in the Andes in present-day Bolivia, include animal-skin pouches and a headband, as well as spatulas, two trays, and an intricately carved tube — tools that were most likely used for sniffing a plant-based psychedelic drug.

Using radiocarbon dating, the team showed that the leather bag containing the objects dates back to somewhere between 905 and 1170 CE. And using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, they found that the kit contained traces of cocaine, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), harmine, bufotenine, and benzoylecgonine — psychoactive chemicals that are all found in various plants native to South America.

Humans have been using psychoactive drugs since time immemorial. Now we have proof that people have been working with these particular substances for at least a thousand years. What’s amazing about this story is that these chemicals did not originate from the area where the bag was found:

Perhaps most significantly, the plants that produce the chemicals analyzed at the site do not grow in the place where they were found. The archaeologists note that while the site is located in the mountains, at an elevation of almost 13,000 feet above sea level, most of these plants grow in the lowland forests of the Amazon.

In other words, these shamans were either acquiring these drugs from a trading network or going on long treks to collect them on their own.

TSA to Travelers: We’re Not Looking for Your Weed

Zach Harris, writing for MERRY JANE:

According to a new report from Forbes, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) posted a photo of a cannabis leaf on the agency’s official Instagram page on 4/20. The social media post also included a note to travelers, clarifying their hands-off approach to pot.

“Are we cool? We like to think we’re cool,” the TSA caption reads. “We want you to have a pleasant experience at the airport and arrive safely at your destination. But getting caught while trying to fly with marijuana or cannabis-infused products can really harsh your mellow.”

“Let us be blunt,” the tongue-in-cheek warning continues. “TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement. This includes items that are used for medicinal purposes.”

So they’re not actively looking for cannabis, but if they find it while searching your bags for other contraband they will still get law enforcement involved. Sure, it’s better than going full narc, but at the end of the day this doesn’t sound all that “cool” to me.

Mexico’s President Proposes Drug Decriminalization With Legal Supply via Prescription

Kyle Jaeger, writing for Marijuana Moment:

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and members of his administration have often talked about removing criminal penalties for certain drug offenses and diverting people suffering from addiction into treatment programs. And that’s exactly what he proposed in the new plan, which was submitted to the nation’s Congress and is expected to inform future legislation. […]

The document says it is time to “renounce the claim” that addiction can be combated through prohibition and to instead “offer detoxification treatments” to people with addiction “under medical supervision,” and calls for money that’s currently used to enforce anti-drug laws to be used instead to fund treatment programs. […]

It also suggests providing consumers with a “supply of doses with prescription,” indicating some form of legal distribution of currently prohibited drugs.

It’s amazing to see Mexico’s President endorsing a plan like this, and my hope is that these harm reduction-based approaches to drug policy reform will start sprouting up more and more as the public learns how effective they are.