An activist group based in Michigan has received the go-ahead from state election officials to start gathering signatures for a psychedelic legalization initiative to make it onto this year’s ballot.
The group, known as Decriminalize Nature Michigan, said on Monday that the state’s Board of Canvassers “certified that the Michigan Initiative for Community Healing could begin collecting the required 340,047 signatures needed by June 1st to qualify for the November ballot.”
According to a press release from the group, the initiative “would decriminalize the possession and cultivation of ‘Natural plants and mushrooms’, reduce penalties for controlled substances that currently include life sentences and lifetime probation, and create pathways for religious organizations and hospitals to develop psychedelic assisted mental health and ceremonial services.”
Julie Barron, co-director of Decrim Nature Michigan, said in the press release that psychedelic assisted therapy offers a “rare ray of hope for people who have been suffering.”
Along with both the national and Michigan-based chapters of Decriminalize Nature, the coalition behind the initiative also includes People for Healthy Choices Michigan (PFHC) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
“Young people across the country have been calling on our elected officials for safe and sensible drug policies to be implemented for decades,” said Kat Ebert, an SSDP board member. “This is an opportunity for the people of Michigan to make history by coming together to pass policy that’s centered around compassion instead of criminalization.”
The activists submitted the proposed initiative to Michigan ballot officials last month. If the initiative were to be ultimately approved by voters in November, it “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,” while also permitting “religious organizations and entities designated by hospitals certified by the state health department to produce and sell entheogenic plants,” according to MLive.com.
Myc Williams, the other co-director of Decriminalize Nature Michigan, said at the time that initiative amounts to “true decriminalization.”
The initiative also includes a host of other drug reforms, including the removal of test equipment from what the state defines as “drug paraphernalia.”
Williams said that people in Michigan “who choose to use drugs can be charged with another crime to test their substance.”
“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 then. “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.”
After a decade in which dozens of states and cities ended their prohibition on recreational pot use, psychedelics are emerging as the new frontier in the legalization movement, with lawmakers and policymakers increasingly open to their potential therapeutic value.
This month in Connecticut, lawmakers pushed forward a bill that would devote $3 million for psychedelic-assisted therapy research in the state.
Although it would not legalize psychedelics, it would establish a program through which qualifying patients could receive MDMA-assisted or psilocybin-assisted therapy from the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The legislation would also establish a regulatory panel that would offer recommendations regarding the “design and development of the regulations and infrastructure necessary to safely allow for therapeutic access to psychedelic-assisted therapy upon the legalization of MDMA, psilocybin and any other psychedelic compounds.”