DC Initiative 81, which passed with overwhelming support last fall, goes into effect Monday, March 15. Under the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, natural psychedelics including magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and mescaline are decriminalized, making arrests for their possession or use the lowest priority for DC police.
The law survived a 30-day Congressional review period and a threat by US Representative Andy Harris, who prevented the District from fully legalizing cannabis following a 2014 ballot initiative that passed with support from 70 percent of DC voters, to derail it. Harris, who set off a metal detector near the House floor while carrying a concealed gun this January, had framed the matter as a public-safety issue.
Initiative 81 was put forward by Melissa Lavasani, who credits natural psychedelics with helping her overcome anxiety, severe depression, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation after the birth of her second child. David Bronner, the top executive at Dr. Bronner’s soap company, helped bankroll the campaign, which had to overcome pandemic restrictions to gather signatures and get on the ballot last fall.
Lavasani’s Plant Medicine Coalition on Monday announced it would offer community grants to organizations that offer education, training, and other work that supports the use of natural psychedelics, which have shown intriguing results in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions. Johns Hopkins opened its Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research last September.