Petitioning for Decriminalizing Psychedelics Gets Delayed Due to Coronavirus


Last Thursday, the D.C. Board of Elections voted 2-0 to allow the Decriminalize Nature D.C. organization to postpone petitioning for Initiative 81, otherwise known as the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020. According to Marijuana Moment, the tentative new date for circulation approval is April 1. The board has not authorized a deadline extension for submitting signatures, but there is hope that the D.C. Council will push back the July 6 deadline.

Decriminalize Nature D.C. sent a request to the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser last week to develop and sponsor emergency legislation for collecting signatures online. There have been no formal moves on the request, but Melissa Lavasani, the proposer of Initiative 81, told The Outlaw Report, “[The Councilmembers] are willing to help us on all fronts.”

“We just don’t think it would be a smart move to start now,” said Lavasani, who cited the rise of teleworkers during this time when businesses and schools are shutting down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “Our campaign is really focused on the community, building people up, and public health. It would be contradictory to what we stand for if we were out there petitioning.”

For now, Decriminalize Nature D.C. has launched an online campaign to collect signatures of people who support their initiative. These signatures will not be legally binding and will not be used to qualify their measure for the general election ballot. Instead, organization members will use the information to reach voters once the circulating petition is adopted by April 1.

The organization must submit 25,000 valid signatures, but Decriminalize Nature D.C. hopes to collect more than 35,000 signatures as a safety net.

Despite the current challenges in this time of uncertainty, Lavasani said, “I’m feeling so, so confident that we can get this on the ballot.”

Image via Angelina Bambina/Shutterstock


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