Detroit Decriminalizes Psychedelics

Voters in Detroit have approved Proposal E, decriminalizing the possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants such as psilocybin or 'magic mushrooms.'

by Dessy Pavlova · November 07, 2021


Voters in Detroit have approved Proposal E, decriminalizing the possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants such as psilocybin or "magic mushrooms."

Detroit's Proposal E

Proposal E was passed on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 with 61.08% of voters supporting this measure.

The text of the voter-initiated Proposal E states:

"Shall the voters of the City of Detroit adopt an ordinance to the 2019 Detroit City Code that would decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults and make the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city's lowest law-enforcement priority?"

What this asks in plain language is whether Detroit is ready to reduce the harm of the War on Drugs, and the city responded with a resounding, "yes!" The policy proposal comes hot on the heels of medicinal and then recreational cannabis legalization in the state. Knowing the legal cannabis consumption laws are rather strict in Michigan—indulge at home only—we can expect that other drugs will be regulated in a similar manner.

Benefits of Decriminalization

The decriminalization of entheogenic plants is a stepping stone towards legalization, and the first step towards providing help and reducing harm. As some advocates claim these psychedelic plants harness potential in treating mental and behavioral health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and clinical depression, this recent approval could increase both usage and access for these therapeutic treatments.

Another benefit of decriminalization is that it "would prevent many Detroiters from being prosecuted and would save the city and state money in enforcement costs," according to an analysis of Proposal E from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

In an interview with the Michigan Advance, Michigan Democratic state Senator Jeff Irwin discussed several benefits that psychedelics provide and that the prohibition of entheogenic plants is a waste of time as well as resources.

"These substances have medicinal value, they have religious significance and they have a very low propensity for abuse. And so that's why I'm proposing to decriminalize the substance because it really makes no sense to spend any time or money arresting people and turning their lives upside down," stated Irwin.

Decriminalization vs Legalization: What's the difference?

Proposal E being passed doesn't mean that the personal possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants is legal. The decriminalization of psychedelics in Detroit means that it becomes the city's lowest law-enforcement priority—but even though it is no longer an arrestable or jailable offense, it is still illegal.

Other Cities and States to "Decriminalize Nature"

Detroit is not the first city in Michigan to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Ann Arbor decriminalized psychedelics in September 2020 after a unanimous vote by the City Council. The movement to decriminalize psilocybin began in Denver, Colorado, the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019 through a voter initiative. The cities of Santa Cruz, Oakland, Washington D.C, Somerville, and Cambridge have also followed suit.

Grand rapids may be the next city in Michigan to jump on the "Decriminalize Nature" bandwagon. Although Grand Rapids has yet to pass any proposals, city commissioners voted in October 2021 to "show support" for the decriminalization movement, and in November 2021 activists are advancing the movement.

The national psychedelics reform movement has spread to many cities since Denver started the trend, but has also expanded to the state level. In May 2020, an initiative in Oregon to legalize medical psilocybin and decriminalize it statewide qualified to appear on the November ballot, and on November 3, 2020, both measures were approved by the voters in Oregon.

Will Michigan Decriminalize Mushrooms Next?

Washington and California are both pushing for ballot measures regarding statewide psychedelic decriminalization for the 2022 election. Both states are making headway to decriminalize—and maybe even legalize—psychedelics in the foreseeable future.

Michigan is also pushing for decriminalization of psychedelics statewide as Senate Bill 0631, introduced by State Senators Jeff Irwin and Adam Hollier, aims to make "conduct associated with entheogenic plants and fungi; exempt from criminal penalties in certain circumstances." This would include decriminalization of manufacturing, possession, delivering, and using entheogenic plants statewide. Adam Hollier believes this is the first step toward legalization and that the decriminalization of psychedelics adds more equity in the system.

With mental illness and depression reaching alarming new heights with the COVID-19 pandemic, the revolution for psychedelic-assisted therapy may be what current health care systems need to handle this increasing growth rate. As ongoing studies of psychedelic-assisted therapy continue to show potential treatments for many serious mental illnesses, the push for the legalization of the therapeutic use of entheogenic plants is perhaps what the nation needs.

Do you think decriminalization or legalization is the best path forward for psilocybin mushrooms?