Decriminalize Nature DC Submits Over 35,000 Signatures to Board of Elections in Support of Initiative 81
Policy Reform Initiative to Change DC Police Priorities for Plant and Fungi Medicines Should Qualify for November Ballot
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Decriminalize Nature DC submitted over 35,000 signatures to the DC Board of Elections in support of putting Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Policy Act of 2020, on the November ballot. If enacted, the law will direct the Metropolitan Police Department to deprioritize enforcement of laws criminalizing plant and fungi medicines against the citizens of the District.
The tens of thousands of signatures of DC voters collected by Decriminalize Nature DC — and submitted at the DC Board of Elections office before today’s 3:00 pm deadline — far exceeds the 25,000 valid signatures necessary to appear on the November ballot. The DC Board of Elections now has 30 days to validate the signatures submitted by Decriminalize Nature DC.
Despite unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, DC voters from all 8 wards signed the petition to support common-sense reforms to police priorities that would help ensure that DC residents using natural plant and fungi medicines are not targeted by law enforcement. DC residents who benefit from entheogens include those suffering from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and other traumas, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and patients in end-of-life care. Initiative 81 has the support of prominent medical professionals, police officers, and DC residents.
If passed by voters in November, Initiative 81 would designate the enforcement of laws against natural entheogenic substances such as psilocybin-containing “magic” mushrooms, mescaline-containing cacti, iboga-containing plants, and DMT-containing plants and preparations such as ayahuasca as among the “lowest law enforcement priorities” for the Metropolitan Police Department. In addition, Initiative 81 would call upon the DC Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for DC to cease criminal prosecutions of adults for related non-commercial activities.
The more than 35,000 signatures submitted in support of Initiative 81 were collected through both traditional signature-gathering and a first-of-its-kind, large-scale “Sign at Home” effort that allowed DC voters to return completed petitions by mail and by email.
Initiative 81 Proposer Melissia Lavasani, the chairwoman of Decriminalize Nature DC, said, “We are grateful to everyone who came together to collect the signatures for Initiative 81 to appear on the ballot. The success of this grassroots community effort would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our supporters, staff, and volunteers.”
Lavasani added, “Today is a milestone for DC. Voters in our nation’s capital have made clear that they are ready to end another piece of the war on drugs and to support their neighbors who, like me, have found relief in entheogenic plant and fungi medicines. For our campaign, today is also the beginning of the next phase to make Initiative 81 law. We look forward to engaging and educating DC voters so that on November 3, DC says ‘Yes on 81’”!
Lavasani, a Ward 6 resident and mother of two, proposed Initiative 81 after entheogens helped her recover from postpartum depression.
For more information, please visit our website www.DecrimNatureDC.org .