Psychedelic Medicine


Decriminalization of Psilocybin with Attorney Sean McAllister


In today’s episode, Sean McAllister explains the history of psilocybin’s legality in the United States and what its legal status is today. Sean is an attorney working for decriminalization efforts in California and Colorado. He was general counsel for the decriminalization movement in Denver and is a key figure in legalization efforts in California.

Sean walks us through the history of psilocybin in the country over the past half-century. He explains how psychedelics became demonized in popular culture and politics. Throughout the sixties and seventies, psilocybin was branded as a dangerous drug and its use and sale were criminalized in the Controlled Substances Act of 1971.

Sean explains how recent cultural shifts have opened up the possibility of looking at psychedelics such as psilocybin for their possible health benefits. He describes what went into decriminalizing psilocybin in Denver through a voter initiative and where it stands there legally at the moment.

In many places, psilocybin’s legality occupies a gray area. Though decriminalized, it still remains technically illegal. Sean explains just what this means in the actual legal landscape and how there are still limits to what one can do with psilocybin.

We also discuss some very current events. Only a few weeks ago, the effort to collect signatures to legalize psilocybin in California began. Sean has been instrumental in drafting the language for this initiative. He tells us where the effort is at the moment and what it would accomplish if passed.

In This Episode

• The history of the study and use of psilocybin in the United States
• The efforts that led to the decriminalization of psilocybin in Denver
• The distinction between decriminalization and legalization
• The current state of legalization efforts in California and Oregon


“It’s nice that this renaissance is about a cultural and paradigmatic shift towards looking at drug use as a public health issue, not an incarceration issue.” [3:14]

“What these elections do is they create so much positivity and hope because it proves that when people come together and when the message is right, the voters will do the right thing, even on a complicated topic like this.” [11:51]

“It’s a very complex issue that we’re really only now beginning to unpack. The next five years are really going to be an amazing time to be involved in psychedelic reform. That’s why its the psychedelic renaissance right now.” [41:55]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.