LANSING, MI — Activists in Michigan are launching a ballot initiative that would legalize using, growing and possessing psychedelic plants.
The proposal would decriminalize personal use, possession and growth of psychoactive substances for adults 18 and reduce penalties for all controlled substance use and possession in Michigan. The initiative would allow religious organizations and entities designated by hospitals certified by the state health department to produce and sell entheogenic plants.
“We are thrilled to have filed our language with the State of Michigan and we look forward to approval by the State Board of Canvassers and hitting the ground with petitions,” Decriminalize Nature Michigan co-Director Myc Williams said.
Before the committee can start collecting signatures from registered voters, the proposal’s 100-word summary needs approval from the Board of State Canvassers.
“Entheogenic plant or fungus” means a plant or fungus of any species in which certain naturally occurring substances and compounds can be found.
Advocates have pointed to research about the healing benefits of psychedelics, including for addiction and mental health treatment. The fight to decriminalize these plants is often compared to Michigan’s successful push to legalize marijuana.
The ballot initiative specifically aims to decriminalize entheogenic plants, but it would also amend Michigan law to reduce penalties for other controlled substances classified under Schedule 1 or 2.
The proposal also contains a provision that would remove “drug checking” equipment from its current classification as criminal drug paraphernalia. Currently, possession of reagents and testing equipment is considered criminal under the state’s paraphernalia code.
“In a time of heavy fentanyl overdoses, it’s really important for people who do use drugs to know what they’re consuming regardless of their legality from a public safety perspective,” Williams said. “The state supports harm reduction in the distribution of Narcan and fentanyl strips, which fentanyl strips are technically illegal. There’s a contradiction there and we’re just clearing it up.”
The ballot committee, Michigan Initiative for Community Healing, is made up of Decriminalize Nature, a national psychedelic advocacy group and its Michigan Chapter, along with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and activists who helped decriminalize plants in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Decriminalize Nature’s Michigan branch began its political movement in Ann Arbor in 2019. Laws passed there a year later in 2020. Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit later declared the laws would be recognized countywide.
In Detroit, a ballot initiative passed with 61% of voters supporting a law that will, “to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law,” make the personal possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.
The initiative instructed Detroit police not to enforce laws related to adult possession or use of entheogenic substances, which according to the Decriminalize Michigan website, include: “mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and/or extracted combinations of plants similar to Ayahuasca; and limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines.”
Since then, Democratic lawmakers have also shown support for decriminalizing the substances in Michigan. Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor and Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, introduced Senate Bill 631 in September to decriminalize entheogenic substances.
Starting at the local level with decriminalization before launching a statewide ballot proposal is a political road similar to the one marijuana drove to commercial legalization; however, Decriminalize Nature Michigan doesn’t want the same “corporate takeover” that’s occurred in Michigan’s multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry.
“We really want to avoid the medical model,” Williams said in November. “Medical models are not equitable and not accessible, so we’re really focusing on the spiritual and ancestral applications of these plants, rather than the medical application as has happened with cannabis.”
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