Following the sucessful decriminalisation of entheogenic plants in Ann Arbor City (such as psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca) on September 21 last year — the greater area of Washtenaw County, Michigan has decided to do the same on January 12, 2021.
Newly appointed prosecutor Eli Savit gave shared the two new policies via Twitter. He said that he will no longer make criminal charges against those caught using magic mushrooms, magic truffles, ayahuasca, marijuana, or any other entheogenic plants.
“Today, I’m pleased to announce that we’ll no longer be charging cases related to marijuana or entheogenic plants (naturally occurring psychedelics).
“We’ll also—categorically—be supporting expungement of old records relating to those substances, if someone’s legally eligible.”
No More Dangerous Than Alcohol
As of today, entheogenic plants are the “lowest law enforcement priority” in Washtenaw County. Thus, we can expect big changes ahead in how Michigan state (and cops, in particular) will deal with the War on Drugs.
“For much of U.S. history, cannabis was widely accepted, & was present in many medicines.
“But anti-cannabis crusaders seized on anti-immigrant sentiment, rebranded it the Spanish word ‘marihuana’, & piggybacked on anti-Black racism to push criminalization.
“This was done despite evidence cannabis is no more dangerous than legal substances like alcohol.”
The prosecutor’s office will no longer charge the “possession, use, or cultivation” of natural psychedelics. This is due to the lack of risk of addiction or overdose. And unlike alcohol, which can often trigger violence when consumed in large amounts — psilocybin does the opposite (as the directive says):
“The use of psilocybin mushrooms has been associated with reduced partner violence in men.”
Where It All Went Wrong
In the 1970s, the Shafer Commission was tasked by the U.S. President Nixon to list down the dangers of marijuana. The team concluded that the drug was NOT a danger to society. Cannabis users were “timid, drowsy, and passive” — in stark contrast to public opinion. However, despite advising Nixon to remove it as a Schedule 1 drug, it was to no avail.
So, the War on Drugs waged on. And Black Americans were more likely to face jail time, despite White & Black people using drugs at “roughly equal rates”.
“Consistent with the racist origins of cannabis criminalization, the costs have not been borne equally,” Savit tweeted.
“And it’s not just about the direct criminal consequences. A cannabis conviction can make it difficult to get a job, to obtain housing, to continue one’s education. It can also render non-citizens deportable.
“Criminal charges aren’t just about jail time.”
Criminalization Doesn’t Make Sense
Savit also pointed out the medicinal benefits of magic mushrooms, magic truffles & other natural psychedelics. According to Savit, it is “unjust” to keep arresting people just for using (or even holding) psychedelic plants & fungi.
“Criminalization of entheogenic plants simply doesn’t make sense. They’re not addictive. They don’t cause violent behavior.
“And other jurisdictions have successfully decriminalized them without any negative consequences.”
He is of course, referring to previous U.S. cities to decriminalize, such as Ann Arbor, Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz.
Still Regulated for Safety
Washtenaw’s new policy on magic mushrooms and magic truffles may seem like “breaking free” from the chains of the law… and in many ways, it sure is. But as with any intoxicating substance, natural psychedelics still need to follow basic rules on public safety.
‘Tis a small price to pay for acceptance!
“We’re firmly committed to ending the War on Drugs. But controlled substances should be regulated for safety,” Savit tweeted.
“For that reason, we may continue to file charges against large-scale, profit-seeking enterprises who flout safety laws; adults who sell drugs to kids, etc.”
Driving under the influence of psilocybin, ayahuasca, or any other natural psychedelics is still a big legal no-no, as well. (Sounds like a no-brainer, but you never know…)
No More Criminal Records
The biggest change for Washtenaw is the automatic “scrubbing” of old criminal records. Specifically those with charges of possession or use of natural psychedelics (like shrooms or marijuana).
“In addition, people shouldn’t have criminal records consisting of things that are no longer crimes. For this reason, we won’t contest any application to expunge cannabis-related records.”
The Beginning of the End
As the Washtenaw policy reads:
“The so-called War on Drugs—in which multiple substances have been criminalized, regardless of their pharmacological properties—has been a failure.”
Because of Nixon’s inaction, and a lack of public education about psychedelics, millions of people were jailed in the War on Drugs. It is an insideous war that continues to this day: fueled by both old ideas and a disregard for scientific progress.
Will 2021 be the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs? A psychonaut can only hope so.
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