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D.C. Effort To Decriminalize Psilocybin Mushrooms Gets Creative; Baltimore Psychedelics Info Online


COVID-19 won’t stop Decriminalize Nature D.C.’s goal of getting an initiative to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms on the ballot in 2020. After unsuccessfully asking Washington D.C. City Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to allow online signatures due to the pandemic (which makes it impossible to gather signatures “IRL”), Decriminalize Nature D.C is now floating the possibility of “micro-scale petition signature collection.”

As first reported by Marijuana Moment, the “micro-scale petition” for Initiative 81—the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020—would mail petitions to those who support the decriminalization of ‘shrooms and then those who received the petition in the mail would distribute it to gather signatures. For now there is a survey about the petition, which will evaluate the likelihood of this strategy even being possible. It asks for the address of those who would be willing to distribute petition to those who support Initiative 81 and an estimate on how many signatures they would be able to gather. 

“To continue our signature collection in a time of social distancing, the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC is exploring a plan for micro-scale signature collection,” the survey explains. “This approach would be in addition to other existing efforts by the Campaign, such as ongoing advocacy to the Mayor, DC Councilmembers, and ANC members, to recommend and pass legislation for authorizing online, digital petition signing. The survey also asks for “a personal story about plant or fungi entheogens” and permission to share that story.

Decriminalize Nature first asked for online signatures to be considered but there has been no determination about that yet. On March 12, D.C.’s Board of Elections voted 2-0 to allow petitioning for Initiative 81 to be postponed. “We just don’t think it would be a smart move to start now,” Decriminalize Nature D.C.’s Melissa Lavasani told The Outlaw Report last month. “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.”

Initiative 81 would, Decriminalize Nature DC explains, “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.”

What Decriminalize Nature DC is dealing with is common in other parts of the country pushing for similar bills. There is a detailed rundown of similar efforts over at Filter, in writer Alexander Lekhtman’s article, “Pandemic Puts the Brakes on the Psychedelic Decriminalization Movement.”

For readers of The Outlaw Report who want to learn more about psilocybin and in particular, its therapeutic effects, the recent documentary Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg, is now available to purchase for streaming. Fantastic Fungi, which made its way through theaters earlier this year, is an IMAX-style science documentary combining stunning visuals and accessible, hard science descriptions of how fungi and mushrooms operate—and as its buoyant narration claims, “heal the planet.” It also offers an intimate look at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Center For Psychedelic & Consciousness’ mushroom studies where individuals are provided psilocybin under medical care and discuss life changing results. You can watch Fantastic Fungi here.

And last month, Baltimore’s Psychedelic Seminars streamed a recent interview with William Richards, a psychedelics research pioneer involved in studies since the sixties and part of Hopkins’ Center For Psychedelic & Consciousness Research. You can watch that on Psychedelic Seminars’ Facebook page.

Still from Fantastic Fungi / Courtesy YouTube

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