Psychedelics

Washington, D.C., Might Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms

The Decriminalize Nature D.C. initiative has gathered enough signatures to land on the ballot this November.

|

On Monday, the Decriminalize Nature D.C. campaign, which seeks to decriminalize "natural entheogenic substances" in the District, reached a major milestone after submitting over 35,000 signatures for their ballot measure to the D.C. Board of Elections.

If at least 25,000 signatures are verified, D.C. voters will decide in November on whether to decriminalize these substances across the district.

Initiative 81, also dubbed the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, would "make investigation and arrest of adults for…engaging in practices with entheogenic plants and fungi among the lowest law enforcement priorities for the District of Columbia," according to the proposal.

Initiative 81 would not reduce any fines or penalties for using or possessing psychedelics already on the books, but it would direct law enforcement to focus on other, more pressing issues. The proposal includes a non-binding call for both the D.C. Attorney General and the federal U.S. Attorney for D.C. to drop prosecutions of people for "non-commercial planting, non-commercial cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing" or possessing these "entheogenic" plants and fungi.

The initiative would decriminalize only naturally-occurring psychedelics, such as DMT, mescaline (found in peyote), and psilocybin (found in certain mushrooms and truffles). "We thought it was really important to focus on what grows in nature," campaign organizer Melissa Lavasani says. 

Psychedelics have gained ground in recent years due to promising medical research conducted by the Johns Hopkins' Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, King's College London, and other researchers around the globe.

U.S. laws have not caught up with the breadth of research on psychedelics. Psilocybin and mescaline are prohibited under schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the category for drugs that are prone to abuse, dangerous, and have no therapeutic applications. 

This miscategorization is a major focus of D.C.'s decriminalization campaigners. 

"Somebody's suffering and they've tried everything else and plant medicines are the only thing that works for them. They're having an amazing experience finding healing with plant medicines," Lavasani says. "Why should they live in fear of losing their job, losing their life, losing their children for something that's been so beneficial for them?"

COVID-19 stay-at-home orders threatened to derail the required signature gathering, prompting the campaign to send voters information packets and petitions by mail. Lavasani says the campaign gathered around 10,000 signatures this way.

Once the city began reopening, the campaign tabled outside grocery stores, parks, and polling places to obtain the remaining signatures.

If the measure is passed in November, Washington, D.C., would join a small but growing group of cities that have decriminalized some psychedelics for personal use. 

Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in May 2019, followed by Oakland, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz. There are now hundreds of similar efforts in cities across the country, many organized by local Decriminalize Nature chapters.

Right now, the odds of success at the voting booth look promising. Campaign polling in April found that a narrow majority—51 percent—of D.C. voters would likely back the measure. Among voters who received additional information about the proposal, support jumped to 60 percent. If the signatures are approved, the campaign's focus will shift towards educating the public about these "natural medicines" ahead of November's election.

Lavasani is optimistic about the future of decriminalization: "We have just hit the tip of the iceberg with research…This is just the beginning for D.C. and the rest of the country. We're really excited."

NEXT: Roberts, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh Reject Trump’s Assertion of ‘Absolute Immunity’ From State Criminal Subpoenas

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Because Congress isn’t fucked up enough!

    1. Great article, Mike. I appreciate your work, I am now making over $15k every month just by doing an easy j0b 0nline!AZs I KNOW YOU NOW MAKIG MOR DOLLARS online from $28 k I,TS EASY ONLINE WORKING JOBS…

      go to this SITE for more INFO just copy and paste……Home Profit System

  2. did DC’s mayor lock down all the bars and restaurants there?

    also kewl. shrooms should be legal they’re fungus. how is fungus illegal?

    1. I bet you’re a real fungi, Dillinger.

      1. most of me is still about 15 years old so there’s that

        1. Virginal?

          1. Asking for a friend?

          2. no not by 15. i lived in South Jersey.

  3. And upon reading the article, it would still be illegal, fines and penalties would stay the same. but would make it “low priority” to the police, and give a non-binding resolution (i.e., ask nicely) for prosecutors to drop these cases.

    So nothing really changes.

    1. Better than it was when I was kid and they were known as “felony mushrooms”.

    2. Yeah, definitely wasn’t a priority 20 years ago. If 20, 18 year olds can lay on the floor of the Smithsonian, giggling their heads off with saucer eyes without even an authority figure stopping to ask what the deal was, I doubt they were enforce the law that strictly.

    3. “And upon reading the article, it would still be illegal, fines and penalties would stay the same. but would make it “low priority” to the police, and give a non-binding resolution (i.e., ask nicely) for prosecutors to drop these cases.”

      Given the unique nature of DC, and the fact that both ‘rooms and heroin are Schedule I substances, wouldn’t this raise 14th Amd issues for heroin prosecutions?

  4. Have you ever visited the Smithsonian? On shrooms? Its actually a lot of fun.

    1. “Holy Shit! Bees DO have knees!”

  5. Having shrooms on the ballot would increase voter turnout.
    Do they use staples or sticky tape?

  6. Fuck mushrooms.
    Decriminalize cucumbers!

    1. Interesting combination of suggestions.

  7. The initiative would decriminalize only naturally-occurring psychedelics, such as DMT, mescaline (found in peyote), and psilocybin (found in certain mushrooms and truffles).

    So the brain will finally be decriminalized in DC? There is hope!

    1. And Pinky, too.

  8. Google easily work and google pays me every hour and every week just $5K to $8K for doing online work from home. I am a universty student and I work n my part time just 2 to 3 hours a day easily from home. Now every one can earn extra cash for doing online home system and make a good life by just open this website and follow instructions on this page…Click For Full Details.

  9. I like your article ,, also visit my article about the numbers game
    https://buyutangka.net/

  10. Google easily work and google pays me every hour and every week just $5K to $8K for doing online work from home. I am a universty student and I work n my part time just 2 to 3 hours a day easily from home. Now every one can earn extra cash for doing online home system and make a good life by just open this website and follow instructions on this page…CLICK HERE.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.