DETROIT, Mich. (Nov. 3, 2021) – On Tuesday, Detriot voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that effectively decriminalized a wide range of psychedelic substances including “magic mushrooms” despite the ongoing federal prohibition of the same.
Under Prop E, Detroit will “decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults.” Practically speaking, the ballot measure will make “the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.”
Prop E passed by a 61.1 to 38.9 percent margin.
Entheogens are psychoactive substances that alter perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior. This includes substances such as psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in “magic 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.”
Detroit joins Ann Arbor in decriminalizing “magic mushrooms.” In September, a bill was introduced in the Michigan Senate that would exempt people from criminal penalties for the possession, cultivation and delivery of plants and fungi that naturally produce entheogens.
Arcata, Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, along with Denver, Colorado, have also effectively decriminalized psilocybin.
Decriminalization and legalization efforts at the state and local level are moving forward despite the federal government’s prohibition of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances. 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.
In effect, the passage of this ballot measure limits criminal enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of these substances in Detroit. 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. Curtailing or ending state or local prohibition, 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 other drugs.