Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday is scheduled to consider a proposal from Ald. Devon Reid (8th) to attempt to decriminalize possession of certain hallucinogenic plants in the city.

But the city’s Law Department says that — for the most part — the city doesn’t have the authority under the state constitution to do that.

Use of magic mushrooms containing psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs has been legalized through voter referendums in Colorado and Oregon.

But their possession and cultivation remains illegal under federal law.

Some research has suggested that psilocybin may be effective for smoking cessation and disorders such as cancer-specific depression and anxiety. That’s led to calls to reclassify the drugs to permit their use with a prescription.

Illinois law makes possession 50 grams or more of the magic mushrooms a felony, and the Law Department says the city could only create lesser penalties for smaller quantities than that.

A few cities, including Ann Arbor, Michigan, Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., have passed resolutions purporting to decriminalize the drugs.

In Ann Arbor the city council declared enforcement of laws against magic mushrooms the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority” which purportedly means authorities won’t investigate and arrest anyone for producing or using the drugs.

A similar proposal was considered in Chicago in 2020.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) has introduced legislation in Springfield that would pave the way for the potential regulated medical use of magic mushrooms.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. CM Reid
    How many constituents have asked for this matter to be brought before the city council?
    I have asked this question of you many times before…with regard to possession of burglary tools…toplessness or the confusion of our trans community around whether they can remove their tops in public…the need for hookah bars…cannabis lounges…and the number of people who are wanting to letting the grass grow in parks until at least June. How many people are clamoring for changes on these matters?
    More staff time and meeting time will now be sucked up on legalizing magic mushrooms. CM Reid the city has lots of big problems with large numbers of residents expressing concern about them; might you focus on solving them? Might you and CM Kelly find a ways to get NU to make payments in lieu of taxes?
    Mimi Roeder

  2. Another hair brain equity/social justice antic from Reid that only serves to distract and waste the time of our Human Services Committee.

    Council member Reid, time to put on your adult pants and start tackling the real issues facing the majority of Evanston.

  3. I feel so sorry for the other alderman that must listen to inane proposals from such an underqualified representative. Evanston is the joke of the Northshore.

  4. I don’t agree with Reid on much, but ‘decriminalize’ is different than ‘legalize.’ I have a good friend who, decades back as a college student was busted trying to bring a bag of magic mushrooms into NU’s ‘Dillo Days’ and to this day the criminal record of it keeps him from being able to pursue certain professions.

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