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Detroit Votes to Decriminalize Psychedelics

Detroit Votes to Decriminalize Psychedelics

Detroit is officially the second city in Michigan to decriminalize plant-based psychedelics. On Tuesday, 61% of voters said yes to Proposal E, decriminalizing the personal possession and therapeutic use of plant-based psychedelics such as psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline, making them lowest priority for law enforcement.

This isn’t the first wave of drug policy reform in the state of Michigan. In 2020, the Ann Arbor city council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution that decriminalized psychedelic plants, thanks to the efforts of Decriminalize Ann Arbor. And just this past September, Detroit State Senators Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor and Adam Hollier, both Democrats, introduced a bill that would decriminalize plant-based psychedelics statewide. 

The proposal was drafted and spearheaded by local advocacy group People for Healthy Choices, says Bert Johnson, a spokesperson for the campaign.

Johnson, whose political consulting firm was hired by People for Healthy Choices to secure the signatures needed to get the proposal on the ballot, says voters were supportive of decriminalization. 

“We found a lot of Detroiters, some 7,000 of them,” says Johnson, “who, once we explained it to them, were very willing to not only sign the petition, but support the measure.” 

Johnson attributes this growing receptivity to the words used to educate the public about psychedelics. “Psilocybin mushroom is an organic plant. It comes from the earth,” he says. “When you talk about it like that, people are far more willing to listen. It is easier for them to digest. They make the absolute connection between health and wellness.”

According to Detroit News, Decriminalize Nature Detroit also helped shape the ballot initiative. One member of the group, Moudou Baqui, tells Detroit News that psychedelics have “absolutely enhanced every aspect of my life and I’ve been blessed to share this with other people.” 

Justin Petty, a spokesman for Decriminalize Nature Detroit, told Detroit Free Press that the proposal, if passed, could pave the way for statewide legislation, and result in fewer people being charged for using these substances. 

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“They may get a ticket … but there’s no confiscation of vehicles and kicking doors and things of that nature. They still have to respect and honor federal law, but they don’t have to, I guess, bring the full weight of the law to bear,” said Petty.  

Eric Luper, president of The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, says the proposal could also lead to increased usage and access to psychedelics in therapeutic contexts, reports The Detroit News. 

Update: This article was updated on November 4 to include the results of the election.

Image: Nicki Adams

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