Michigan Senators Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) co-sponsored and introduced legislation last week that would decriminalize the use of psilocybin and mescaline and allow the possession, cultivation and delivery of these two types of psychedelics.
In an interview with the Michigan Advance, Irwin contended that psychedelics provide several benefits and that continued prohibition was a waste of time and resources.
“These substances have medicinal value, they have religious significance and they have a very low propensity for abuse,” Irwin said. “And so that’s why I’m proposing to decriminalize the substance because it really makes no sense to spend any time or money arresting people and turning their lives upside down.”
Recent Advances In Decriminalization: The Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution in September 2020 decriminalizing the use of psychedelics. In Grand Rapids, a vote is coming up this year to decriminalize the use, possession, growing or gifting of psychoactive plants and fungi.
What's In The Current Bill? Irwin said his proposed legislation would build off of decriminalization efforts in Ann Arbor and other communities to ensure no one is criminally penalized for utilizing psychedelics. He added that the bill would contribute to efforts to reverse the effects of the War on Drugs, which has disproportionately affected communities of color since the 1970s when federal restrictions on psychedelics went into effect.
“There are efforts in other communities across the state to decriminalize these substances and to stop wasting any police resource [and] turning people’s lives upside down over it,” Irwin said. “I’m really proud to be kind of starting up this conversation at the state level of why is it that we’re continuing to engage this fail in government policy of prohibition? Why are we continuing to prosecute the war on drugs in ways that don’t help us and lead to mass incarceration?”
No Medicinal Properties? Researchers Beg To Differ: Like cannabis, psychedelics are classified as a Schedule-1 drug with “no currently accepted medical use and "potential for abuse.”
However, numerous studies currently underway have shown that psychedelics are indeed helping patients with crippling mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addictions.
Research institutions such as John Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley, have also recently opened centers dedicated to psychedelic research.
Irwin emphasized that the legislation would rid people of having to choose between prioritizing their health and safety or following the law.
“Fixing that for those people and giving our institutions an opportunity to research and learn more about why these substances work for some people can be a great benefit to many people who are struggling with mental illness,” Irwin said.
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