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Psychedelics Decriminalization Efforts in Washington D.C. Ramp Up


The Outlaw Report has been keeping an eye on cannabis-adjacent organizing within Washington D.C. having to do with Initiative 81, or the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, which would decriminalize psychedelics. The organization behind the effort, Decriminalize Nature D.C., has kept up its goal of getting an initiative to decriminalize psychedelics on the ballot in 2020 amid COVID-19 (developing a complex “micro-scale petition” in response) and last week, sent the Initiative 81 petition to every household in D.C.

Initiative 81 would, as Decriminalize Nature D.C. has previously explained, “make the investigation and arrest of adults for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, possessing, and/or engaging in practices with entheogenic plants and fungi among the Metropolitan Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priorities”; and “codify that the people of the District of Columbia call upon the Attorney General for the District of Columbia and the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia to cease prosecution of residents of the District of Columbia for these activities.”

Decriminalize Nature D.C. announced they mailed out 220,000 information packets in hopes of continuing to collect signatures. D.C. residents should receive the Initiative 81 petition this week if they have not already received it.

Support for decriminalizing psychedelics is growing across the country and coincides with a moment where mushrooms are going mainstream, thanks to popular psychedelics writing from Michael Pollan, psychedelics coverage on Netflix series The Goop Lab, and the documentary, Fantastic Fungi, now available to rent digitally. In April, Decriminalize Nature D.C. released the results of a poll which found that a majority of residents support the decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms and other “entheogens” (psychedelic substances) such as mescaline, ayahuasca, or DMT.  The study reached nearly 800 people over phone and shows that with little additional information, 51% of those polled support the initiative while 27% were opposed and 22% were undecided. Undecided and opposed decreases after a “plain-language explanation” of Initiative 81: 60% then say they support, 27% still oppose, and 13% remain undecided. 

“In these uncertain times, engagement with local democracy is key to enacting real reform,” Decriminalize Nature D.C.’s  Melissa Lavasani said in last week’s press release. “When you receive a petition in the mail, it is an invitation to both make a positive change in DC laws and to support local democracy by giving DC voters the opportunity to vote on Initiative 81 in November.” 

A copy of the petition is available here as well. Voters should return the signed petitions by June 26 to make the July 6 deadline.

Photo by John McGowan

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