by Camille Delany
Thursday, Oct. 6 marked one year since the passage of a resolution that decriminalized entheogens, or plant-based psychedelics, in the City of Arcata. Celebrations took place in Redwood Park at an event organized by Lissie Rydz of the Do Nothing Society and Danielle Daniel of Microdosing Humboldt. The sky had been overcast all morning, but as the event was underway the sun began to shine through the clouds, illuminating the colorful hammocks and blankets clustered in one corner of Redwood Park.
Danielle Daniel, a local microdosing coach who led advocacy for decrminizalitation at the City Council meeting one year ago, reflected on a year of decriminalization in Arcata.
“I’m just excited, and feel so blessed, and just like really relieved that everything’s fine,” Daniel said. “That was the big fear of decriminalization. Like, ‘What’s going to happen?’ ‘People will just be tripping in the streets!’ It’s like, no, it opens up access for people to heal.”
The decriminalization process took a concerted effort from the community, the support of the Arcata City Council, and hard work on the part of organizers
“Coming into it last year, it was really stressful. It took a lot of energy. It really drained me,” Daniel said. “It was freaking hard! And when it was decriminalized, I was so happy, but I was so drained at that time.”
“Since then it’s just been really magical just feeling safe to be able to provide my services in educating the community about microdosing and the healing potential,” Daniel said.
Daniel handed out free microdoses of psilocybin mushrooms (decriminalization permits the gifting, but not selling, of entheogens) in baggies that included a card with her contact information to adults over 21 with proof of ID.
“There’s been quite a few people coming up to me that have never done [psilocybin] before and they feel safe enough to do it here,” Daniel said. “It’s very cool, witnessing that fear dissipating more and more.”
Students mingled with members of the larger community as art supplies, snacks, and books were shared across vibrant blankets. Roslyn Gilbert, a Cal Poly Humboldt student, often attends Do Nothing events and values their atmosphere of friendly relaxation and inclusion.
“Being a trans woman, I feel like there’s a lack of spaces in this world that are friendly to trans women without being explicitly queer,” Gilbert said. “This is a very safe place to be trans. It doesn’t feel like I have to carve out a safe area.”
Hosting the event with Daniel was Lissie Rydz, who started the Do Nothing Society over the summer. With the Do Nothing Society, she aims to create public spaces for social relaxation in the face of growing productivity culture. The Do Nothing Society isn’t always entheogen-specific, but held Thursday’s “Microdose and Do Nothing” celebration in honor of one year of decriminalization.
“I credit most of my growth as a person to psychedelics,” Rydz said. “So I think that it’s beautiful that [since decriminalization] there’s not all this fear and anger.”
Rydz advocates for building community, enjoying public spaces, and making time to play. Do Nothing events are public and, when not held at Redwood Park, can often be found at houses of community members, local events, or a nice river spot.
“It’s proof of concept by doing it,” Rydz said of decriminalization. “It’s not scary, it’s sweet!”