‘Magic mushroom’ supporters in DC gear up for long fight

One of the items being voted on right now is a measure that would make so-called “magic mushrooms” and other psychedelic plants among the lowest law enforcement priorities in the District.

Backers of the proposal are hopeful about its chances, but they say there will be more campaigning to do even after Election Day.

“I’m extremely optimistic,” said Melissa Lavasani, the D.C. government employee who filed the voter initiative. She says psilocybin mushrooms (commonly known as magic mushrooms) helped her with severe postpartum depression.

But even if voters approve the measure, the D.C. Council can still change it, or overturn it. Then, there’s a federal review — but Lavasani hopes the federal government won’t step in.

“There’s nothing changing in the budget with this. There’s no actual regulations changing. We’re just adjusting police priorities, which is completely under the purview of local government,” she argued. “If we were saying we are legalizing it, then it would be subject to federal oversight.”

Still, Lavasani said supporters of the initiative are, or will be, reaching out to members of Congress and the D.C. Council.

The measure is called the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, or Initiative 81. In addition to depression, backers also believe the psychedelic properties of magic mushrooms can treat anxiety, PTSD and addiction.

In September, a poll conducted by FM3 Research suggested that 60% of D.C. voters would support the proposal.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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