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Politics DC ballot initiative could decriminalize psychedelic plants, like magic mushrooms

13:05  29 october  2020
13:05  29 october  2020 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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an initiative to decriminalize psychedelic plants , including “ magic mushrooms ,” will appear on November’s ballot after supporters gathered more of illegal psychedelic mushrooms after suffering postpartum depression in 2018, proposed the initiative in December because she thought everyone

Voters would likely approve a measure to decriminalize psychedelic plants and fungi in the nation’s capital if organizers qualified it for the November ballot , a new poll shows. The new poll, commissioned by the Decriminalize Nature D . C . campaign, asked likely voters a series of questions

This Election Day, voters in Washington, D.C., will consider a measure that, if approved, would effectively decriminalize the use of psychedelic plants, like ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms, more commonly known as magic mushrooms.

A D.C. resident who grows psilocybin mushrooms, including these Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, poses in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, 2020. © Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE A D.C. resident who grows psilocybin mushrooms, including these Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, poses in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, 2020.

Initiative 81, or the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, would make the investigation and arrest for adult cultivation and use of psychedelic plants one of the lowest law enforcement priorities for the district's police department. It also contains a non-binding clause asking the D.C. attorney general to not prosecute anyone charged with an offense related to the substances.

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On Monday, organizers with Decriminalize Denver plan to submit signatures to the Denver Elections Division to get the measure on the ballot . DENVER — A push to make Denver the first U.S. city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms is getting closer to being on the ballot for the May municipal

The proposed D . C . ballot initiative would apply to psilocybin mushrooms , iboga, mescaline and ayuhuasca When a 2014 ballot initiative approved legalizing marijuana use, Congress stepped in and She's counting on the idea that ordinary voters, far from the psychedelic heyday of the 1960s

Melissa Lavasani, a mom and D.C. government employee who proposed the initiative, called the measure a "small step" toward ending the war on drugs.

"We believe that there is a growing body of research around these substances, and there's a lot of interest in the research community," she said. "And our laws should adapt to what the research has indicated."

MORE: Activists seek to decriminalize 'magic' mushrooms in DC

The district would follow Denver, Oakland, California and Santa Clara, California, in decriminalizing some or all psychedelic plants. Voters in Oregon are also considering a similar measure, which would set up treatment facilities using psilocybin mushrooms, but would not decriminalize them.

Lavasani saw the success of the decriminalization campaign in Denver and began advocating for a similar measure in the district. She knew the therapeutic value of psychedelics personally after using psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca to treat severe postpartum depression.

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Magic Mushroom Decriminalization Could Be Voted On in Denver. A group pushing for the decriminalization of magic mushrooms says it has enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot this spring. Denver could become the first city to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms .

Oakland passed a resolution to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants and fungi in a That makes it the second U.S. city to do so – last month, Denver voters approved a similar ballot initiative that decriminalizes the " magic " mushrooms .

A vendor poses with harvested psilocybin mushrooms, May 19, 2019 in Denver. © Denver Post via Getty Images, FILE A vendor poses with harvested psilocybin mushrooms, May 19, 2019 in Denver.

"I had zero experience with depression or any real mental health issues," Lavasani said. "I've had a pretty regular, good life. And I had never been in that situation before and I was struggling terribly."

At the time, she sought a more natural way of treating depression (through cognitive behavioral therapy and other methods), but nothing was working for her.

"At that point in time, I was contemplating suicide because I was so miserable, and my family was really suffering with me," she said. "I didn't really see a way out."

Then, Lavasani came across an interview with mycologist Paul Stamets on the Joe Rogan podcast, in which Stamets talked about the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin mushrooms. After doing her own research, Lavasani decided to try them.

MORE: How conservative South Dakota could be at the forefront of legalizing marijuana

"I would take it in the morning and within a matter of days I started to get my humanity back," she said. "I started to feel like I used to. I was engaging with my children and I was engaging with my husband again, and the whole world lit up for me."

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However, the initiative , if approved, would decriminalize the drug in Denver by telling police that enforcing laws against the possession of “ magic But opponents say decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms could increase drug use in a city where recreational and medical marijuana is already

Like many other mushroom users, Max, 43, claims the substance opened his mind to a new way of seeing Medical experts say mushrooms can pose a danger to a small number of people with serious mental While Denver's decriminalization effort focused solely on magic mushrooms , Oakland's

But despite how much her mental health improved, the fear of being arrested for using the Schedule I drug persisted.

"It's a frightening thought to work your entire life for your career and to build your family and to know that it can all be wiped out with one person finding this information out and reporting it to the police," Lavasani said. "I really could have lost everything in my life, just as I was getting my life back."

MORE: Denver is 1st to decriminalize 'magic mushrooms'

Matthew Johnson, the associate director of Johns Hopkins University's Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, told ABC News that while the FDA has not approved psychedelics for therapeutic use, there is "very strong evidence" they have anti-addiction effects and can treat depression and anxiety in some patients.

"The remarkable thing, which really is the paradigm shifting thing in psychiatry, is that you can have one session where we've seen behavioral effects over a year afterwards," he said.

Johnson said that the biggest risks associated with psychedelics are susceptibility to psychotic disorders and people panicking in response to "bad trips," which he refers to as challenging experiences.

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Some Oregonians want to legalize psychedelic mushrooms . (CNN) Oregon's Secretary of State has just approved language for a potential ballot initiative that would If they get the requisite number of signatures, Oregonians could vote on the decriminalization of psilocybins, or magic mushrooms

Denver was the first city to enact this kind of ordinance, which it did in May. But Oakland's goes further.

These are generally short term risks, Johnson said, and they can be mitigated in a clinical setting. Because it only takes a few sessions for patients to see effects, clinicians can monitor a person's reaction more closely than they could with daily psychiatric medication.

The most vocal opponent of the initiative is Republican Maryland Rep. Andy Harris. At a House Appropriations Committee mark-up in July, he introduced, but later withdrew, an amendment that would restrict Initiative 81 to medical use only.

"This is a bald-faced attempt to just make these very serious, very potent, very dangerous -- both short-term and long-term -- hallucinogenic drugs broadly available," he told the New York Post in July.

MORE: Oakland becomes 2nd US city to decriminalize magic mushrooms

"Public health has to be maintained," he added. "We know, of course, once you make it a very low enforcement level and encourage prosecutors not to prosecute it, what would prevent people from using hallucinogens, getting behind the wheel of a car and killing people?"

Lavasani responded to Harris' criticism by noting that nothing in the district's laws about driving under the influence would change.

"This isn't really like a party drug that we're talking about. I think in his mind he's thinking, 'Well, people are going to be out eating mushrooms and partying,' but what we're talking about is the therapeutic use of them," she said. "We're talking about people with really serious issues that they haven't been able to find solutions for that this can help."

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