Local officials in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday will hear presentations on a proposed ballot measure that would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms.
For a measure to appear on a ballot in the District, several hoops must be jumped through, the biggest being the D.C. Board of Elections. An independent government body, the board is solely responsible for determining whether initiatives can advance to a city-wide vote.
According to The Washington Post, the proposal would make growing and selling psychedelics "among the lowest law enforcement priorities.” Specifically, it would apply to plants and fungus that contain ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin and other chemicals.
Supporters of the measure say that chemicals such as psilocybin, a hallucinogen, have been shown to help with addiction, PTSD, depression and other mental health problems.
"Practices with entheogenic plants and fungi have longs [sic] existed, have been considered sacred to a number of cultures and religions for millennia and continue to be enhanced and improved," a report submitted to the board said. “Citizens of the District of Columbia seeking to improve their health and well-being through the use of entheogenic plants and fungi currently use them in fear of arrest and prosecution.”
If the Board of Elections deems the initiative viable, supporters of the proposal would then petition signatures after a challenge period, the Post reports.
“At the end of the day, the merits of the initiative are not our decision to make,” Board of Elections Chairman D. Michael Bennett told the Post. “The merits will be decided by the voters.”
The proposal is formally known as the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020 and was proposed by D.C. Department of Energy and Environment budget officer Melissa Lavasani.
Lavasani is also a spokeswoman for advocacy group Decriminalize Nature DC. She told the Post that she began micro-dosing on the hallucinogens in 2018 when she fell into deep depression.
“I felt much lighter,” she said. “I was actually happy. I had joyful moments. I was engaging with my children more. It was a quick turnaround.”
Lavasani doesn't take the substance anymore but said that the proposal is "one step closer to getting people feeling comfortable enough to treat themselves."
If the proposal was to make it on the ballot and pass, D.C. would become only the fourth city in the country to decriminalize the drug, joining Oakland and Santa Cruz in California as well as Denver.