In the past five months, a significant number of DC voters have changed their tune about drug policy. Poll results released on September 2 by the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC show that three in five, or 60%, of DC voters support Initiative 81, the “Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020,” which aims to decriminalize plant and fungi medicines, making them the lowest priority for law enforcement.
The results mark a 9% increase in support from April 2020. The poll, sponsored by the New Approach PAC and conducted by the polling firm FM3 Research, surveyed likely November 2020 voters via 620 live telephone interviews from August 16 to August 24, 2020.
Decriminalize Nature DC attributes the increased support to their focus on educational outreach in the DC community. “We spent a lot of time educating DC voters about the benefits of plant medicines, as well as explaining what Initiative 81 would do and why it is important to change police priorities for plant medicines,” communications director Erin Dunne told Lucid News.
“Our polling shows that the more people know about Initiative 81, the stronger their support,” says Dunne. When presented with the extensive body of clinical research around the mental health benefits of plant medicines, “it is hard to argue that DC residents should face investigation or arrest for using entheogenic plants and fungi.”
Since April, Decriminalize Nature DC has collected almost 25,500 signatures from registered DC voters to put on Initiative 81 on the November ballot. According to their press release, “three times as many District voters have now seen, heard or read at least a little about Initiative 81.”
Support grew to 64% when voters were provided with a plain-language explanation of the ballot initiative. “When it is clear that all we are trying to do is simply reduce people’s risk of facing arrest for healing themselves,” says Dunne, “they tend to support it.” The War on Drugs is already deeply unpopular among DC residents, and is viewed “unfavorably by a 34% to 55% margin,” according to FM3’s Memo “DC Voter Views of Initiative 81-August.”
Education has proven to be hugely effective. Decriminalize Nature DC plans to use the $150,000 raised for their fall campaign towards a grassroots outreach and mass education program, including leaflets and mailers, to attract more voters.
“We are running a different kind of campaign, one that is driven by support in all of DC’s 8 wards,” says Dunne. “By connecting with voters through education and grassroots action, we know that we can persuade even more people to vote Yes on Initiative 81.”
Initiative 81 has been met with no organized and funded political opposition, according to Ballotpedia.