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Detroit Approves Psychedelics Decriminalization Ballot Measure |

Detroit voters supported Proposal EC on Tuesday. This proposal would allow for the decriminalization of naturally occurring psychotropic drugs such as mescaline (ayahuasca), psilocybin, and dimethyltryptamines (DMT). Proposal E, which was approved by 61 percent of the city’s voters, makes the personal possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants and fungi such as psilocybin mushrooms the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.

Detroit has become the latest city to pass psychedelics legislation. Washington, D.C., Denver, Oakland, California, as well as other major cities across the country, have also approved similar measures through their ballot boxes or council actions. Similar legislation has been proposed by other Michigan cities like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids.

“We are seeing a steady trend underway of local municipalities voting to decriminalize the therapeutic use of entheogenic plants, Dr. John Huber, CEO of TripSitter Clinic, a ketamine telemedicine clinic that has recently become available in Michigan, told Chronic NewsSend an email. 

“The passage of this ballot measure in Detroit represents where everyday people are at as it relates to embracing non-traditional modalities of healing,” Huber added. “Every local decriminalization law which passes serves to create a more equitable society: one that doesn’t judge or punish individuals for embarking on their own journey of healing.”

Proposal E qualified for Detroit’s November ballot after a signature-gathering campaign spearheaded by the group Decriminalize Nature Michigan. Moudou Baqui of Decriminalize Nature Detroit stated that the measure doesn’t apply to commercial psychoactive activity. This would have required detailed regulation provisions.

“If we move to decriminalize, we eliminate a whole slew of potential issues, whether it’s licensing, whether it’s so-called code enforcement, whether it’s so-called compliance issues,” Baqui told Detroit public radio.

Detroit also has broader psychedelic decriminalization efforts

Legislators and activists are pushing for reform at the state and local level of policy regarding entheogenic and psychedelic drugs. In last year’s November election, voters made Oregon the first state in the nation to decriminalize psilocybin for therapeutic use with the passage of Measure 109. 

The bill was introduced by Jeff Irwin (a Michigan Democratic Senator), to remove the criminalization of psychedelic drug use, which includes mescaline, DMT, and psilocybin. But, sales and commercial production would be still illegal. Under the legislation, Senate Bill 631, possession and use of psychedelic drugs produced by entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, mescaline and psilocybin would be “exempt from criminal prosecution in certain circumstances.”

“These substances have medicinal value, they have religious significance and they have a very low propensity for abuse,” Irwin told the Michigan AdvanceAfter introducing the bill. “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.”

Irwin’s bill is co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Senator Adam Hollier, who says that psychedelics decriminalization could be the first step toward legalization. 

“Michigan can be what Colorado was for marijuana almost a decade ago as a boon and as an economic opportunity,” Hollier said. “But most importantly, [we need to] stop trying to make things criminal for no reason just because people don’t like them.”

“Because often the people who get in trouble for these things are minority communities, right? Decriminalizing just adds a little more equity in the system,” he added.

Higher Mental Health with Psychedelics

Payton Nyquvest (CEO and co-founder of Numinus, a psychedelic treatment and products company), believes psychotherapy and psychedelic medicine have the potential to change lives. The potential for psychedelic therapy to help with serious illnesses like depression and anxiety as well as substance use disorders, such is the evidence of ongoing research.

“The current healthcare systems are not equipped to handle the increasing global rates of mental illness, addiction and trauma and aren’t able to treat and manage mental health needs. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy relies on trained psychedelic therapists and counselors who support patients on their journeys, combining traditional psychotherapy with psychedelic medicine,” Nyquvest told Chronic NewsInterview via virtual means 

“Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is a trauma-informed practice that integrates the experiences a patient has during their psychedelic journey with their everyday life, helping the patient to move past or better understand their traumas.”

Nyquvest stated that there must be new alternatives to existing therapies in modern healthcare. Traditional treatments aren’t always effective and therefore need to be developed. He said that decriminalization can speed up the process. 

“Decriminalizing psychedelics is one step towards reducing the stigma associated with psychedelic medicines and increasing accessibility in mental health treatments,” Nyquvest said. “The current system relies heavily on traditional pharmaceuticals focused on treating the symptoms and not the cause. This system can be cost-prohibitive, with a high barrier to entry.”

Nyquvest believes that with continued research, therapists can “create a new model of accessibility” for their patients, particularly those with conditions that resist current standard mental health treatments.

Polling places for Detroit’s election open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.