Detroit voters decided overwhelmingly in Tuesday’s general election to decriminalize entheogenic – or psychedelic – plant use and possession. Advocates are hailing it as a step towards legalization.
Tuesday’s election was expected to have low voter turnout, and it ultimately only attracted 15% of registered voters to the polls. With 100% of precincts reporting, 53,709 voted in favor of the measure, while 34,222 voted against it, 64 to 36%.
Decriminalize Nature Michigan, an advocacy group supporting the acceptance of entheogenic plants and fungi led the petition drive to bring the ballot initiative before voters are lauded as heroes.
Voters were asked in Proposal E, “Shall the voters of the City of Detroit adopt an ordinance to the 2019 Detroit City Code that would decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults and make the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority?”
Moudou Baqui, a spokesperson for Decriminalize Nature told Grown In that it was important to get the measure on the ballot to remove the stigmas associated with psychedelic plants.
“So often, people equate law with morality,” Baqui said. “Because of that, they won’t take time to study these plants and see the benefits of them. “The other reason it was important to get it on the ballot is to help take down this unjust war on drugs that’s impacted too many people, particularly my community which is the Black community. The third thing is to alleviate the suffering. Too many people are suffering with the weight of mental illnesses that are not being treated and no one seems concerned for their plight.”
Myc Williams, co-director of Decriminalize Nature Michigan, hopes the momentum continues following Ann Arbor Michigan City Council voting unanimously in Sept. to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelic substances, and Detroit’s Tuesday night victory.
“We’ve got the bill in the state senate right now,” Williams said, referring to SB631. “Detroit is the key piece to pushing it forward in the senate.”
Passage allows those suffering with mental illnesses to take their medicinal options into their own hands and not have to wait for academia to create a prescription for their issues, he added.
Rebecca Colett, founder of the Detroit Cannabis Project, and co-owner of a cannabis cultivation and processing brand, Calyxeum Detroit, cast her vote Tuesday in favor of decriminalization.
““It was important for me to vote because I don’t think people should be locked up for any plant whether it’s cannabis or psychedelics.”
Passage of the referendum does not mean the drug is legal. It only means those found in possession and who therapeutically use hallucinogenic plants, such as magic mushrooms are “supposed” be a low priority for law enforcement.
Other cities including Denver, Colorado, and Oakland, California, have also moved to decriminalize entheogenic substances.
Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, an independent, nonpartisan, public policy, research group that focuses on state and local government in Michigan, told Grown In the ballot measure takes a similar path as marijuana in Michigan and some other states in the effort to decriminalize it.
“It still remains a controlled substance and it’s still illegal to distribute it or have large amounts of this sort of drug,” Lupher said. “Wayne County prosecutors can still choose to bring charges and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. But, if somebody doesn’t get arrested, it doesn’t really get to the prosecutor’s office.”
However, police in the city will not make it a high priority to investigate or bring charges against somebody with small amounts of psychedelic drugs on their person or in their house, Lupher explained.