Ann Arbor council to vote on decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms, plants

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ANN ARBOR, MI — Two Ann Arbor City Council members are hoping to convince their colleagues to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs.

On council’s agenda for Monday, Sept. 21, is a resolution sponsored by Council Members Anne Bannister and Jeff Hayner, both 1st Ward Democrats.

If approved, it would declare the investigation and arrest of people for using, growing, possessing, transporting and distributing entheogenic plants and fungi — including hallucinogenic drugs deemed illegal under state and federal law — to be the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.

It also would declare no city resources should be used to investigate, arrest or prosecute anyone for such offenses.

A grassroots group called Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor, or DNA2, has been lobbying city officials to take up the issue.

Earlier this year, council members weren’t eager to sponsor the group’s proposal. It’s now on council’s agenda for the first time.

“Decriminalization of naturally occurring medicines is necessary for progress,” Hayner said in a DNA2 news release. “We can no longer turn a blind eye towards the wisdom of indigenous peoples, and the bounty the earth provides. I have been moved by the testimonies of those who have found profound relief from the use of entheogenic plants.”

Marijuana activists have turned their attention to the cause after winning the fight to legalize cannabis in Michigan.

Entheogenic plants and fungi DNA2 hopes to decriminalize include psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, ayahuasca, mescaline, ibogaine and others.

Decriminalizing such substances has great potential to help address mental health issues, Bannister said in the DNA2 news release, adding what’s proposed already exists in practice in Ann Arbor and will benefit the community.

The resolution would not authorize commercial sales or manufacturing, possessing or distributing in schools, driving under the influence or public disturbances, it states.

It will need at least six votes from the 11-member council to be approved.

DNA2 Executive Director Julie Barron, a local therapist who practices psychedelic-integration therapy, said the group feels confident it can win council approval, but it’s also prepared to go to voters with a ballot initiative if needed.

The resolution defines “entheogenic plants” as the full spectrum of plants and fungi that contain indole amines, tryptamines and phenethylamines “that can benefit psychological and physical wellness, support and enhance religious and spiritual practices, and can reestablish human’s inalienable and direct relationship to nature.”

It states psychedelic substances can be used to help address substance abuse problems, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, grief, cluster headaches and other debilitating conditions.

“The use of entheogenic plants, which can catalyze profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth, have been shown by scientific and clinical studies and traditional practices to be beneficial to the health and well-being of individuals and communities in addressing these conditions,” it states.

Practices with entheogenic plants have been sacred to human cultures for thousands of years, yet those seeking them today to improve their health and wellbeing fear arrest and prosecution, the resolution states.

Read the full resolution.

Chuck Ream, a longtime Ann Arbor marijuana activist and now DNA2 political adviser, wrote to council members this week, arguing the only reason “all these magical plants” are against the law is because of a lack of separation between church and state. “Twisted dogma” has been used “to control our desire for fulfillment, for deep therapy, and for a restorative relationship with nature,” he wrote.

“Using police power to control my relationship with nature … is utterly anti-American! It is grossly perverted and dysfunctional,” he added, arguing truly American policy recognizes the unalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

“We need to make clear progress with these breakthrough plant-based compounds before COVID-19 is finished, not after,” Ream said in the DNA2 news release, pointing to mental health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.


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