ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Sept. 24, 2020) – On Monday, the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously voted to decriminalize psilocybin and other naturally occurring psychedelics despite federal prohibition. Passage of the resolution takes a first step toward nullifying federal prohibition in practice and effect.
Council Members Anne Bannister (D) and Jeff Hayner (D) sponsored the resolution. Under the new policy directive, enforcement of laws against a wide range of entheogenic substances such as psilocybin and ayahuasca will become among the city’s lowest enforcement priorities.
The resolution declares that “it shall be the policy of the City of Ann Arbor that the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Ann Arbor.”
The resolution also stipulates that “city funds or resources shall not be used in any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants.”
“Decriminalization of naturally occurring medicines is necessary for progress,” Hayner said in a press 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.”
Ann Arbor joins Oakland and Denver as the third city to effectively decriminalize psilocybin.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms. A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”
Despite the move to decriminalize psilocybin and other and its promising medical uses, the federal government maintains a total ban on the substance.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of psilocybin. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
The city council’s action will effectively end city enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of psilocybin in Ann Arbor. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with psilocybin.
Passage of this resolution in Oakland takes the very first step toward nullifying psilocybin prohibition in practice and effect.
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