Voters in the District of Columbia have approved an initiative that aims to effectively decriminalize the use of several psychedelic substances.
Initiative 81 makes non-commercial possession, distribution, purchase and cultivation of psychedelic and hallucinogenic plants and fungi a lowest law enforcement priority for the Metropolitan Police Department.
The measure also creates a “non-binding public call upon the DC Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for DC to cease prosecution of criminal charges involving these substances,” which are also referred to as “entheogens.”
The ballot initiative was approved by 76% of voters.
An Initiative Driven by Grassroots Support
“Initiative 81’s success was driven by grassroots support from DC voters,” said Initiative 81 Proposer Melissa Lavasani in a press release. Lavasani is also Chairwoman of Decriminalize Nature DC, a nonprofit that backed the initiative’s campaign.
“We are thrilled that DC residents voted to support common sense drug policy reforms that help end part of the war on drugs while ensuring that DC residents benefiting from plant and fungi medicines are not police targets,” she said.
The measure encompasses Psilocybe mushrooms, which contain psilocybin; the Iboga plant that produces the hallucinogen ibogaine; the mescaline-producing Peyote cactus and a shamanic beverage called Ayahuasca, which contains N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, also referred to as DMT.
As opposed to other scheduled drugs, these hallucinogens can be found in nature, have no addictive potential and are being researched for their efficacy in the treatment of several mental conditions.
Initiative 81 does not change penalties regarding these plants, nor does it allow commercial sales. However, shifting them to a lowest law enforcement priority allows patients who already use these plants in a therapeutic context, as well as citizens who engage in spiritual practices with these drugs, to use them without fear of prosecution.
Photo by Ridwan Meah on Unsplash
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