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Michigan Activists Submit Psychedelics Decriminalization Language

The Michigan Activists Group submitted language last week for a ballot measure to legalize natural psychotropic drugs in Michigan. It launched an effort at the state level that has made significant progress. 

On February 1, the Michigan Initiative for Community Healing submitted the initiative proposal to state officials. This ballot committee is made up drug policy reform groups such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Decriminalize Nature, and organizers of decriminalization programs in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

“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,” said Myc Williams, co-director of Decriminalize Nature’s Michigan chapter.

The proposed ballot measure, if passed by the voters, would make it illegal to possess, cultivate, or transfer entheogenic plants and mushrooms by anyone older than 18. The legislation would apply to “natural plants and mushrooms” and their active ingredients including psilocybin, psilocyn, mescaline, ibogaine, peyote and dimethyltryptamine. The cultivation and sale of entheogenic plants would be allowed for religious organizations as well as groups that are certified by the state.

“It’s a true decriminalization,” Williams said. “Everyone over the age of 18 would be allowed to grow, possess, use, cultivate, share, etc.”

Michigan Proposed Drug Reform Initiatives Included in the Proposed

Additionally, the proposed ballot measure includes broad drug policy reform provisions. These include an easing of criminal penalties for simple possession all Schedule I/II controlled substances. A felony for possessing more than 1000 grams of any drug could be converted to a misdemeanor with up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 penalty. Lower amounts of controlled substances would result in a decrease in the penalties.

The initiative would also remove testing equipment and supplies from the state’s legal definition of drug paraphernalia. The organizers claimed that the provision will help to protect individuals from dangerous additives like fentanyl.

“People who choose to use drugs can be charged with another crime to test their substance… to know in fact what they are ingesting,” Williams said.

“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 explained. “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.”

Local decriminalization efforts see success

Michigan has already made significant progress in its efforts to legalize psychedelics. In last November’s election, voters in Detroit approved a psychedelics decriminalization measure with the support of 61 percent of the electorate. Ann Arbor passed a similar bill in 2020. At least 12 other cities have also passed or are working on similar measures.

The effort has also received support from some law enforcement officials, including Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, who made Ann Arbor’s psychedelics decriminalization measure countywide policy. He noted that “the vast majority of people who engage in substance use are able to do so without criminal consequences.” 

“But for an unlucky few, their decision to use substances results in harsh, life-changing penalties. The War on Drugs has thus created a cruel roulette wheel of sorts,” Savit wrote in a message of support published on the Decriminalize Nature Michigan website. “And it’s a weighted wheel, as the data clearly shows that Black people and people of color are far more likely to face criminal consequences related to drug use than white people.”

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers must approve the summary of the proposed ballot measure in order for the initiative decriminalizing psychedelics to be made state law. For the ballot to be eligible, the organizers will need 340,000 signatures from registered voters.