Psychoactive plants to be discussed at city council meeting

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This Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council meeting will discuss topics including wheelchair charging opportunities for the homeless, a visit to a new sister city and the decriminalization of entheogenic, or psychoactive plants.

The wheelchair charging recommendation would allow the city to develop policies for accessible and reliable opportunities for disabled homeless individuals to charge powered wheelchairs. The recommendation states that when wheelchair batteries empty, individuals can become stuck at crosswalks, and the city hopes that the chargers would save the city money by reducing the costs of emergency personnel and medical services.

According to the Berkeley City Council consent calendar, at least several dozen and at most over 100 homeless individuals use wheelchairs in Berkeley. The consent calendar also states that these wheelchairs are important for movement.

Last year, the City Council approved a recommendation that led to the establishment of sister city relations with Gongju, Korea — Berkeley’s 17th current sister city. According to the consent calendar, Gongju’s mayor sent an invitation to “exchange ideas” at an event in Gongju, officially commemorating the sister city status.

Berkeley plans to send a delegation including Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Councilmember Rigel Robinson and a staff member. Tuesday’s recommendation would allow for up to $6,000 in reimbursements for travel expenses, which include communications with governmental representatives on policy and activities which affect the city’s interest.

Also up for discussion is a referral to the city Community Health Commission for feedback regarding a resolution decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi — which includes mushrooms and cacti.

The action calendar for the July 16 council meeting included a resolution to decriminalize entheogenic plants by restricting the use of city funds and resources to enforce laws regarding their use and possession  by people age 21 and over. The action calendar cites the misalignment of federal drug laws with current medical research on these plants, and their potential for treating certain illnesses.

Leon Chen is a crime and courts reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @leonwchen.