Psychedelics

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Biden Says Tough Drug Policies Were "A Mistake," German Parliament Rejects Marijuana Legalization, More... (11/2/20)

A New Jersey bill to ensure workers' compensation covers medical marijuana advances, a Caribbean island nation embraces psychedelic therapies and wellness, and more.

The Democratic presidential contender apologizes for anti-drug bills in the 1990s. (Creative Commons)
Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Workers' Compensation Bill Advances. The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed A1708 on Monday, which would require employers and insurance carriers to "provide for coverage for costs associated with the medical use of cannabis" for workers' compensation claimants. The bill now heads for an Assembly floor vote.

Drug Policy

Biden Says Anti-Drug Policies Harmed Black Communities and It Was a ‘Mistake’ to Support Them. Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden is addressing his past support for tough crime and drug policies, saying the Black community was "really hurt" by them. "It was a mistake, and I’ve been trying to change it since then." He pointed to reducing the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity as one way he has attempted to make amends. "There’s so much we can do. And by the way, it’s because we’ve learned so damn much more," he said. "Look, unlike Trump, when I make a mistake I admit it. I admit it. And we can make it better. And I think the public is with us, I really do."

International

German Parliament Rejects Marijuana Legalization. The Bundestag has rejected a bill that would have created a "strictly controlled" adult-use legal marijuana market. The defeat came even as most Bundestag members belong to parties that favor some form of marijuana law reform, but opposition parties could not reach agreement on how to do it. The bill that failed was filed by the Greens, but had only the support of the Left Party.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Okays Psychedelic Program. The Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has approved a measure that will allow for the "cultivation, research, processing, and prescription of psychedelic plant-based compounds including psilocybin, ibogaine, peyote, ketamine, dimethyltryptamine, ayahuasca and sassafras" for the purpose of psychedelic therapy. The country has already granted license to three companies to pursue research and wellness with psychedelics.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.

Drug Reform Measures on Tuesday's Ballot [FEATURE]

Although the questions of whether Donald Trump is driven out of office and whether the Democrats sweep to control of the Senate are dominating the discourse as we head toward Tuesday, there are other items for people to be voting on, too. Those include drug policy-related items in a half-dozen states and the nation's capital. And there's one bad initiative to reverse sentencing reforms.

As we prepare for a tumultuous Election Day, here's a brief review of them, and of what the polls say their prospects are:

Arizona -- Marijuana Legalization

Proposition 207: The Smart & Safe Arizona Actwould legalize marijuana for people 21 and over and allow for home grows of up to six plants. The state would regulate a legal marijuana market with a 16% tax on retail sales. Polling has been variable enough to make backer nervous, with several recent polls showing the measure in the mid-50s, but another recent poll putting it at 45.6%, with 34.2% opposed and 19% undecided. If that latter poll is accurate, Prop 207 needs at least a quarter of those undecideds to break in its favor.

ANTI-REFORM: California -- Sentencing Reform Rollback

The ballot title for Proposition 20, "Restricts Parole for Non-Violent Offenders. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors," pretty much says it all. The measure is an effort to roll back sentencing reforms by both the legislature (AB 109 in 201) and two voter-passed initiatives, Proposition 47 (2014), and Proposition 57 (2016). All of those measures were designed to reduce the state's prison population; this one would increase it at a cost of tens of millions of dollars a year. A late September Survey USA poll had support for Prop 20 at 35%, with 23% opposed and 43% undecided.

Mississippi -- Medical Marijuana

Mississippians for Compassionate Care placed Initiative 65 on the ballot as a full-fledged medical marijuana measure, prompting the state legislature to propose its own watered-down version, , which, among other things, limits smoking medical marijuana to terminally ill patients. An had support for medical marijuana at a whopping 81%, and voters preferring Initiative 65 (52%) over Initiative 65A (23%).

Montana -- Marijuana Legalization

Constitutional Initiative 118 and Initiative 190 are complementary marijuana legalization initiatives. I-190 is a statutory initiative that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over. CI-118 is a constitutional initiative that would allow I-190 to set the minimum age at 21. The initiatives are complementary and work together to establish a careful framework for legalizing marijuana in Montana. The latest polling has the initiative at 54%, trending up from earlier polls.

New Jersey -- Marijuana Legalization

Public Question 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for people 21 and over and allow for system of regulated sales subject to the state sales tax of 6.625%. It leaves questions such as possession limits and whether to allow home grows up the legislature state regulators. Things are looking good in the Garden State: A series of Brach Eichler pollshas had the measure winning around two-thirds support, while a Fairleigh Dickinson poll released earlier this month had support at 61%.

Oregon -- Drug Decriminalization

The groundbreaking Measure 110 would decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of all drugs and use revenues from legal marijuana sales to help fund expanded drug treatment. People caught with drugs could either pay a $100 fine or complete a health assessment. Distribution of such drugs would remain criminalized. There is no polling to point to, but the measure has lots of money and a bevy of endorsements, including the state Democratic Party.

Oregon -- Therapeutic Psilocybin

Measure 109, the Psilocybin Services Act, would create a program to allow the administration of psilocybin products, such as magic mushrooms, to adults 21 and over for therapeutic purposes. People would be allowed to buy, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin services center, but only after undergoing a preparation session and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator. The only known poll is more than a year old and had it in a dead heat, with 47% support and 46% opposed.

South Dakota -- Medical Marijuana

The Measure 26 medical marijuana initiative would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow up to three plants. The initiative also establishes a state medical marijuana program with dispensaries, licensed cultivators, and testing operations. A late October poll has the measure winning handily with 74% in support.

South Dakota -- Marijuana Legalization

Constitutional Amendment A would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by people 21 and over and allow for the home cultivation of up to three plants in jurisdictions with no retail marijuana outlets. It also envisions a legal marijuana market with a sales tax of 15% and requires the state legislature to pass laws providing for medical marijuana and hemp by next spring. A late October pollhad the measure winning 51% to 44% with 5% undecided.

Washington, DC -- Natural Psychedelic De Facto Decriminalization

Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Policy Act of 2020, would have police treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of natural plant medicines (entheogens) as their lowest law enforcement priority. The measure also asks the city's top prosecutor and its US Attorney to not prosecute such cases. It looks likely to win. The measure has been endorsed by the DC Democratic Party, and according to a September FM3 poll, when read the ballot language, 60 percent of likely voters supported it. That figure jumped to 64 percent when respondents were given a plain-language explanation of the measure. The initiative is also well-financed, with the New Approach PAC kicking in nearly half a million dollars. There are no registered opposition campaign committees.

The Psychedelic Revolution is Coming to the Ballot Box -- This Year [FEATURE]

The psychedelic renaissance that has been emerging in recent years will finally get a chance to be ratified by voters in November. On one side of the country, Oregon will be voting on an initiative to legalize the strictly regulated therapeutic use of psilocybin, while on the other side of the country, Washington, DC will be voting on an initiative that essentially (but not formally) decriminalizes a whole range of plant- or fungi-based psychoactive substances, from ayahuasca to peyote and magic mushrooms.

The measures build on nascent efforts to get city governments to ease access to psychedelics, moves that have so far seen success in Denver, which in 2019 made possession of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority, and Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Ann Arbor, which have followed this year. Most -- but not all -- of this activity is taking place under the rubric of Decriminalize Nature, which describes its mission as "to improve human health and well-being by decriminalizing and expanding access to entheogenic plants and fungi through political and community organizing, education, and advocacy."

The Oregon initiative, Measure 109, isn't part of that. Also known as the Psilocybin Services Act, it would create a program to allow the administration of psilocybin products, such as magic mushrooms, to adults 21 and over for therapeutic purposes. People would be allowed to buy, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin services center, but only after undergoing a preparation session and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator.

The measure would direct the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to develop a program and create regulations for it within two years. The OHA would also be responsible for determining who could be licensed as a facilitator and what qualifications and training they would need, as well as creating a code of professional conduct for facilitators. And the OHA would also set dosage standards and come up with rules for labeling and packaging.

The measure also bars the establishment of psilocybin service centers within residential areas inside city or town limits and gives local governments the ability to ban them in unincorporated areas within their jurisdictions.

The initiative is the brainchild of Portland psychotherapists Tom and Sheri Eckert, who formed the Oregon Psilocybin Society in 2016 and are the co-chief petitioners for the measure. Unlike the broader psychedelic reform movement, their goal is strictly limited to therapeutic ends.

"We see psilocybin therapy as an end in itself. We see the measure as a template and we plan to help organize the new profession and spread the template in the years to come," Tom Eckert said in an email interview.

"A growing body of research suggests that 'psilocybin' -- a natural compound found in many species of mushrooms -- can, as part of therapy, help relieve a variety of mental health issues, including depression, existential anxiety, addictions, and the lingering effects of trauma," Eckert explained. "Psilocybin therapy demonstrates an excellent safety record and often achieves lasting results after just one or two psilocybin sessions."

While the campaign has an impressive list of endorsers, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the state Democratic Party, four state senators, and a raft of state and national social justice, civil rights, and drug reform groups, it is also catching flak from some in the Decriminalize Nature movement.

In a Facebook post, Decriminalize Nature Portland lambasted Measure 109: "This initiative would create one more medical model which serves the privileged members in society and makes it harder for the most vulnerable people to heal. The cost and hard-to-access system being created by M109 would make it very difficult for lower income people, indigenous communities, immigrants, undocumented people, people who cannot afford an ID, and non-English speaking populations to gain entry into the closed and privileged system being created by this measure. We are concerned about the implications of an elite group of beneficiaries putting a free medicine that grows naturally out of the ground behind a paywall," the group said.

"The greatest danger of M109 is that it would create a special class of permit-holders who would be motivated to lobby to prevent progressive measures such as those passed in Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor, which are designed to enable access to the most vulnerable people by enabling them to grow, gather, gift, and share their own entheogenic plants and fungi," they argued.

When asked how the campaign responds to critiques like that from Decriminalize Nature Portland, Eckert was terse and blunt: "We don't," he said.

(It should be noted that at the same time Oregonians are voting on the psilocybin initiative, they are also voting on Measure 110, which would decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of all drugs -- including psychedelics.)

Instead, the campaign is relying on a big budget, support from medical figures, and a lack of organized opposition to find a path to victory. The campaign has raised nearly $3 million, with more than $2.5 million of that coming from the New Approach PAC, which supports marijuana and drug reform efforts around the country, and one of whose major donors is David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

"We are extremely appreciative of the support extended by the whole Bronner family," Eckert said. "David is intimately involved as part of our executive committee and is a great friend. Dr. Bronner's is a towering example of a conscious company and steward of the Earth."

Will Measure 109 win in November? The only known poll on the issue, from DHM Research in January 2019, had it in a dead heat, with 47 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. Eckert said the campaign has done internal polling but didn't reveal any results. "What I can tell you is that it's close," he said. "Back in 2015, when we first took aim at 2020, this was basically 'mission impossible.' Now we have a real and historic opportunity and we're excited to finish the job."

Back on the East Coast, residents of the nation's capital will be voting on Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Policy Act of 2020. That measure would have police treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of natural plant medicines (entheogens) as their lowest law enforcement priority. The measure also ask the city's top prosecutor and its US Attorney to not prosecute such cases.

It looks likely to win. The measure has been endorsed by the DC Democratic Party, and according to a September FM3 poll, when read the ballot language, 60 percent of likely voters supported it. That figure jumped to 64 percent when respondents were given a plain-language explanation of the measure.

The initiative is also well-financed, with the New Approach PAC kicking in nearly half a million dollars. There are no registered opposition campaign committees.

For Initiative 81's chief petitioner and campaigns spokesperson Melissa Lavasani, the measure is an outgrowth of her own personal story.

"How I got here was that I healed myself from post-partum depression with psychedelics," she said in a phone interview. "I had no mental health issues like that before, nor did I have any experience with psychedelics. I had an image of psychedelics shaped by propaganda. But then I listened to Joe Rogan when he had [mushroom maestro] Paul Stamets on. My husband grew up in the South and he said it was common to pick mushrooms and eat them, and he said the podcast made a lot of sense. So we decided to give it a try," she related.

"I was insistent on not taking pharmaceutical antidepressants because I saw one friend take his life on them and saw others have their personalities changed. I was a career woman and growing my family. I had a lot to lose, but I tried microdosing, and within a few days I was shocked at how quickly it worked. I was interacting differently with people and the change was so profound," Lavasani continued.

"At the same time, I was watching the Denver magic mushroom campaign -- and Oakland and Santa Cruz quickly followed -- and got inspired. My husband worked for a city council member, and DC was on the forefront of marijuana reform, so why not be a leader on psychedelic reform?"

"I never thought I would be doing this, but this issue is extremely important. How many people in my demographic are on medications? When you did into the research, you see these therapies are extremely effective, so I asked why aren' we acting on this. Our health care system doesn't address these serious mental health issues."

Lavasani acknowledged that passage of the measure would chip only a few flakes from the façade of drug prohibition, but said you have to start somewhere.

"Our measure is a very small step, it's just asking for the Metro police to make it the lowest law enforcement priority so that someone cultivating psilocybin or other substances at home is provided a layer of protection knowing the police won't came after them. I lived in fear and secrecy because I was in possession of a controlled substance. I don't want others to have to do that," she said.

"We are limited in the District because of congressional oversight," Lavasani explained. "We've been talking to allies in Congress while campaigning, and if we win, and the Democrats take the majority in the Senate, we can get restrictive riders removed, and then we can take it further.

"This campaign is a good start, but there's a lot more work to do," she said. "We're okay with it being a first step. When we start talking about psychedelics, the first thing the black community thinks of is PCP. We have to undo a lot of that, so we're out in the community talking to people about plant medicines and talking about what kind of infrastructure we need to stay safe."

The measure's endorsement by the DC Democratic Party showed how attitudes are changing, and quickly, Lavasani said.

"This was a safe yes for the DC Democrats," she noted. "They learned a lesson from cannabis reform -- when it happened it happened very quickly. You know, police reform is on the top of everyone's list right now, and this is the only thing on the ballot that touches on that. The majority of the party understood that the small step we're taking is a positive step toward ending the war on drugs. It's a no brainer -- we all know why it exists and it's time for us to make a change."

For David Bronner, both the Oregon and the DC initiatives are part of a broader push for psychedelic liberation -- and not just natural plant psychedelics.

"In my book, it's strategic because LSD has the most baggage and is the end game, but it's my favorite psychedelic," said Bronner. "'Plant medicines that you can grow naturally resonate with voters, and key stakeholders in the Decriminalize Nature movement definitely favor natural plant medicines versus synthetic psychedelics. I'm a fan of all of them and have experienced the incredible healing and spiritual power of both. It's important to note that the incredible clinical research with synthetic psilocybin at Johns Hopkins for end of life, anxiety, depression, and addiction is supporting the Decriminalize Nature movement," he added.

And this year's psychedelic initiatives are just the beginning, he said.

"Our hope in future election cycles, is to combine broad based treatment not jail and decriminalization (Measure 110 in Oregon) with the Decriminalize Nature ethos where the cutoffs for plant medicines are much higher or eliminated, and that also has a therapeutic psychedelic program like Measure 109 in Oregon, basically combining all three approaches into single state wide ballot measures in Washington and maybe Colorado in 2022," Bronner said.

But first, the movement needs to rack up a couple of victories this November.

OR Drug Decrim Init Gets Chan/Zuckerberg Donation, DC Dems Endorse Psychedelic Initiative, More... (10/6/20)

Facebook's founder kicks in half a million dollars for Oregon drug decriminalization, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition launches a national dialog on the overdose crisis and COVID, a group of French MPs show their reactionary side, and more.

Peyote buttons and other natural psychedelics would be effectively decriminalized by a DC initiative. (Creative Commons)
Drug Policy

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Backs Drug Decriminalization in Oregon With $500K, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have donated $500,000 in support of Oregon's Measure 110, the drug treatment and decriminalization initiative. That makes them the second largest donors to the effort, behind Drug Policy Action, the political and lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, which has kicked in $850,000.

Psychedelics

DC Democrats Endorse Psychedelic Decriminalization Initiative. The Democratic Party of the District of Columbia has formally endorsed Initiative 81, which would effectively decriminalize a range of natural psychedelics, such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, and peyote. After a presentation from Decriminalize Nature DC last week, party delegates approved the endorsement by a vote of 23-10.

International

Canadian Drug Policy Coalition Launches National Dialogue Series on the Overdose Crisis and COVID-19. In response to the country's ongoing overdose crisis amid the pandemic, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition at Simon Fraser University, in partnership with the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, is launching Getting to Tomorrow: Ending the Overdose Crisis -- 18 public health dialogues across Canada over the next two years aimed at identifying and moving towards solutions to the overdose crisis, in the context of COVID-19, by building consensus and shared meaning. "The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the illegal drug toxicity death crisis as a catastrophic failure of Canada's current approach to drugs. Governments have moved mountains in response to the COVID-19 pandemic while a coherent pan-Canadian approach to over 15,000 overdose deaths in the past four and a half years has failed to materialize," said Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. "We hope the Getting to Tomorrow dialogue series will inform, engage, and inspire Canadians to become more involved in building a new approach to drugs based on principles of public health and human rights, and lead to improved health and safety for all in our communities."

French MPs Hit Out Against Proposed Marijuana Legalization. Some 80 members of parliament have written an open letter against marijuana legalization after renewed debate on the topic started last week. "There is no 'soft drug'. Drugs are a poison, a plague that we must fight," they wrote. Some MPs had called for legalization as a means of undercutting drug dealers, but this group was having none of it: "Legalizing the sale of cannabis will make current dealers turn towards other, even more dangerous substances. Just because law enforcement struggles to keep up with dealers, doesn't mean that we should legalize the practice," they wrote. They see marijuana and other drugs as the cause of "psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, school failure, dropping out of school, dropping out of society." It concluded by quoting Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who said "drugs are shit."

Mexico Cartel Hitmen Gun Down Six Police Officers in Durango. Gunmen believed to be with the Sinaloa Cartel ambushed a policy convoy in Durango state last Thursday near the town of El Mezquital, killing six officers and leaving seven wounded. Vehicles abandoned by the attackers contained bloodstains, suggesting that some of them had been injured as well.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a funder of StoptheDrugWar.org.

VT Battle Over Marijuana Bill, Key Mexico Leader Vows Marijuana Legalization Bill Passage by December, More... (10/5/20)

Another Arizona poll muddies the waters on support for marijuana legalization, pressure is mounting on Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) to sign or veto the state's marijuana sales bill, and more.

Will Mexico actually legalize marijuana by December? Stay tuned.
Marijuana Policy

New Arizona Poll Has Marijuana Initiative Still Ahead, But Under 50%. The polling is getting wacky in Arizona. Last week, one pollster had Prop 207 winning with 57% of the vote while another had the measure at 50%, with 34% opposed. Now, a new Suffolk University/USA Today poll has the measure with 45.6% support, with 34.2% opposed and 19% undecided. If this latest poll is accurate, Prop 207 needs at least a quarter of those undecideds to break in its favor.

Vermont Racial Justice Group Condemns Marijuana Legalization Bill. The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance led several dozen protestors at a Sunday rally at the statehouse to call on Gov. Phil Scott (R) to veto the marijuana legalization bill, SB 54. The group argues that the bill fails to address the impact of systemic racism on the state's marijuana industry as well as the historical disproportionate impact marijuana prohibition has had on communities of color. The Vermont Growers Association also opposes the bill, saying it would be detrimental to the state's current illicit growers because it offers no way for them to transition to the legal marijuana market.

Vermont Coalition of Justice Organizations Urge Governor to Sign Cannabis Bills. Five justice organizations -- ACLU of Vermont, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, Middlebury Showing Up for Racial Justice, Women's Justice and Freedom Initiative, and the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana -- issued a statement Monday urging Gov. Phil Scott (R) to sign SB 54 and accompanying expungement legislation into law. It notes, "Taken together, these bills will make huge strides towards addressing the racist legacy of cannabis prohibition and disparate enforcement of our current cannabis laws." They urge Gov. Scott to sign this bill into law, and, as the bill is implemented, ensure that the promises of racial justice are given full effect.

Psychedelics

Michigan Prosecutor Not Pursuing Psychedelics Possession Cases After Decriminalization Vote. Incoming Washtenaw County prosecutor Eli Savit, who is running unopposed for election, has told the Ann Arbor branch of Decriminalize Nature that in the wake of the Ann Arbor city council voting to essentially decriminalize the possession of psychedelics he would not pursue any cases of simple psychedelic possession. He also called the war on drugs "a terrible failure."

International

Mexico Senate Leader Expects Marijuana Legalization to Pass in December. Ricardo Monreal, leader of the ruling MORENA Party in the Senate has said he expects marijuana legalization to be approved by December. The Supreme Court has given lawmakers a deadline of December 15 to get it done. This after two previous Supreme Court deadlines have come and gone. He said Amsterdam-style on-site consumption would not be allowed, but marijuana would be sold at private, strictly regulated "sale and distribution centers."

Mexican Marijuana Legalization Campaigners Take Fight to Senate's Doorstep. Activists have planted and nurtured a thriving marijuana garden right next to one of the Senate entrances as part of a campaign to pressure the legislature body to get legalization done. The plants are now about eight feet tall. The plants will not be harvested, but the two dozen young people who tend them bring their own marijuana with them and toke up in the evenings. "The aim is to claim our rights as responsible consumers," said Enrique Espinoza, a 30-year-old member of the Mexican Cannabis Movement.

AZ Poll Has Legalization Init in Dead Heat, Psychedelic Group Releases Handbook for Organizers, More... (9/29/20)

The battle over medical marijuana in Mississippi is heating up, a proposed 2022 Oklahoma marijuana legalization initiative has to go back to the drawing board, and more.

There's now a field manual for people who want to challenge psychedelic criminalization at the local level. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Poll Has Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Dead Heat. A new poll from OH Predictive Insights has the state's voters evenly split on support for the Prop 207 marijuana legalization initiative, with 46% in favor and 45% opposed and 9% undecided. That's down from a 62%-32% lead in the same poll in July. The shift is being driven by older voters, rural residents, Republicans and independents, the pollster said.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Proposed 2022 Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The state Supreme Court on Monday struck a petition that would have put marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot. The court held that the wording on the petition was misleading and lacked sufficient detail. There is plenty of time to try again, though.

Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Initiative Hearings Coming. The state secretary of state's office will host the first of five public hearings about the medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot, Initiative Measure 65, and its legislatively sponsored alternative, Alternative Measure 65A, on Wednesday in Oxford. The hearings will feature presentations from speakers both for and against Initiative Measure No. 65 and Alternative Measure No. 65A. All public hearings will be conducted in accordance with all state guidelines regarding COVID-19.

Medical Groups Urge Mississippi Voters to Reject Medical Marijuana Initiative. The Mississippi State Medical Association and the American Medical Association released a memo this week calling on voters to reject the medical marijuana initiative, saying the ballot is inherently confusing. They also accused petitioners of being driven by a desire for profit.

Psychedelics

National Psychedelics Reform Group Releases Handbook on Enacting Decriminalization Locally. Decriminalize Nature, a national psychedelic reform group, has released guidelines for advocates who want to pursue local policy changes that challenge the criminalization of psychedelics. The group has led successful campaigns to deprioritize natural psychedelics in cities such as Denver, Oakland, and Washington, DC, among others.The organizer's handbook includes fact sheets, press release templates and sample educational emails to send to local lawmakers.

SD Marijuana Poll Has Good News, UC Berkeley to Open Psychedelic Research Center, More... (9/22/20)

A Texas judge has temporarily lifted a ban on smokable hemp, the Ann Arbor city council approves a resolution effectively decriminalizing plant-based psychedelics, and more.

Marijuana legalization and medical marijuana initiatives are polling well. If they can win in South Dakota... (CC)
Marijuana Policy

South Dakota Opposition Group's Polling Shows Voter Support for Marijuana Legalization Initiatives. A poll commissioned by a group opposing the state's marijuana legalization initiative, Constitutional Amendment A, and medical marijuana initiative, Initiated Measure 26, finds both leading by a sizeable margin. The survey found that 70% supported the medical marijuana initiative and 60% supported the legalization initiative.

Hemp

Texas Judge Lifts Ban on Smokable Hemp Until 2021. A Texas judge has granted a temporary injunction barring the state from enforcing a ban on smokable hemp products until a challenge from the industry can be heard on court. The ban was written into legislation legalizing hemp in the state, but four hemp producers challenged it in court. Last week, Travis County Judge Lora Livingston found that the plaintiffs "have demonstrated a probable right to relief," Livingston granted the injunction, which will be in effect until the issue is litigated in February.

Psychedelics

New Psychedelics Research and Education Center Launched at UC Berkeley As Reform Movement Grows. The University of California at Berkeley will launch a new center dedicated to psychedelics research and education, the school announced Monday. Researchers will study psychedelics to "investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain," according to a press release. At the same time, the new entity will be putting resources toward informing the public about "this rapidly advancing field of research." Johns Hopkins University opened a similar center last year.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council Approves Psychedelic Decriminalization Resolution. The city council voted Monday night to approve a resolution effectively decriminalizing plant-based psychedelics (or entheogens). The resolution passed unanimously.

AZ Poll Has MJ Init With Bare Majority, White House Releases Annual Drug Certification List, More... (9/16/20)

A new poll has the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative at 51%, the natural psychedelic decriminalization movement comes to Ann Arbor, and more.

President Trump released the annual certification of other countries' compliance with US drug policies on Wednesday. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Poll Has Marijuana Legalization Initiative with Bare Majority. A new Monmouth University poll has the Prop 207 marijuana legalization initiative winning the support of 51% of registered voters, with 41% opposed, 6% undecided, and 3% who said they would not vote on the issue. That is an uncomfortably close margin, but at this late stage also a hopeful one. Traditionally an initiative campaign hopes to begin a campaign with 60% support, expecting to lose some voters as election day approaches and details of the initiative get debated.

Foreign Policy

White Houses Releases Annual Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2021. In an annual exercise in which the US grades other countries' compliance with US drug policy objectives, President Trump on Wednesday named 20 countries as "major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries." They are: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Although Venezuela is not a drug producing country, Trump named "the Venezuelan dictator, Nicholas Maduro" as "the most complicit kingpin in the Hemisphere." He also called on Colombia to "move forward with aerial spraying" of coca crops and Peru "to resume eradication operations in the country"s high yield coca producing regions, including the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers." He also warned Mexico that it must step up anti-drug operations if it wants to avoid being considered a country that "failed demonstrably to uphold its international drug control commitments."

Psychedelics

Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council to Take Up Natural Psychedelic Lowest Priority Ordinance. The Ann Arbor city council will take up a ordinance that would make enforcement of laws against plant- and fungi-based psychedelic drugs the lowest law enforcement priority next Monday. Those drugs include psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, ayahuasca, mescaline, ibogaine and others. The move is being pushed by an activist group, Decriminalize Ann Arbor.

International

Brazil Fast-Tracks Legislation to Legalize Cultivation of Hemp, Medical Marijuana. The Brazilian legislature is moving a bill that would legalize the cultivation of medical marijuana and hemp. While efforts have been underway since 2015 to revise the country's marijuana laws, this new version of the legislation calls for cultivation, processing, research, storage, transportation, production, industrialization, commercialization, import and export of medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp be legalized.

CA Safe Injection Site Bill Killed, Good Polls on MS MedMJ and DC Natural Psychedelic Initiatives, More... (9/3/20)

There are good polling results for medical marijuana in Mississippi and a natural psychedelic initiative in DC, Pennsylvania's top elected officials call for marijuana legalization, and more.

A psilocybin molecule. The plant-based drug would be effectively decriminalized if a DC initiative passes. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Pennsylvania Governor, Lt. Governor Call on Legislature to Legalize Marijuana. Governor Tom Wolf (D) and Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D) called Thursday for the General Assembly to go beyond medical marijuana and legalize marijuana outright, not just medical, in Pennsylvania. According to the governor's office, legalization will provide a revenue stream that will help the state's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Poll Has Very High Support for Medical Marijuana Initiative. Polling firm FM3 Research recently conducted a survey of state voters and found a whopping 81% supported legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Voters will have the chance to vote on two competing initiatives, one championed by Mississippians for Compassionate Care, and another watered-down created by state legislators. The survey found voters preferred the original initiative, Initiative 65, over the watered-down one, Alternative 65A.

Harm Reduction

California Safe Injection Site Bill Killed. Legislative leaders in Sacramento last week killed Assembly Bill 362, which would have allowed the cities of Oakland and San Francisco to establish safe injection sites in a bid to reduce drug overdoses. The bill had already passed the Assembly but was shelved in the Senate.

Psychedelics

DC Poll Has Solid Support for Psychedelic Decriminalization Initiative. A new poll of DC residents has support for Initiative 81 at 60%, up nine points since the poll was last conducted in April. The measure would make natural psychedelics the lowest law enforcement priority in the nation's capital.

International

Australian Officials Ponder Allowing MDMA, Magic Mushrooms for Mental Health Treatment. The country's medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, is seeking feedback on a proposal to legalize MDMA and psilocybin -- the active ingredient in magic mushrooms -- for mental health treatment purposes. Mind Medicine Australia, a non-profit that advocates for new treatments for depression and PTSD has asked the regulator to allow psychiatrists to use MDMA and the hallucinogenic psilocybin in therapy sessions.

DC Natural Psychedelic Initiative Qualifies, DPA Federal Drug Decrim Push, More... (8/10/20)

Residents in the nation's capital will vote on whether to effectively decriminalize natural psychedelics, the Arizona pot legalization initiative survives a legal challenge, the Drug Policy Alliance pushes for federal drug decriminalization, and more.

Decriminalize Nature DC street signs
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative Fends Off Legal Challenge. The Smart and Safe Arizona marijuana legalization initiative has survived a legal challenge from foes. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith ruled late Friday that the measure's summary did not mislead voters and the measure can be on the ballot. "At 100 words, the summary also cannot include everything," he wrote. "That is why the full initiative must accompany the petition. This initiative is plain: It wants to legalize recreational marijuana," the judge wrote. "That is the principal provision. It is unlikely electors signing these petitions would be surprised by cascading effects of legalizing a formerly illegal substance."

Drug Policy

Drug Policy Alliance Proposes Federal All-Drug Decriminalization, Releases New Legislative Framework. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a new federal legislative proposal Dismantling the Federal Drug War: A Comprehensive Drug Decriminalization Framework, which provides a roadmap to effectively end the criminalization of people who use drugs and begin repairing the harm drug law enforcement has caused to communities of color. The DPA model decriminalization legislation -- the Drug Policy Reform Act -- takes the first steps in dismantling the punitive apparatus built up over the past 50 years. To begin refocusing federal drug policies, the legislation shifts the authority for classifying and regulating controlled substances from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The legislation eliminates criminal penalties for all possession of personal-use quantities of controlled substances, and shifts federal resources away from futile enforcement strategies to supportive initiatives to protect the public health and safety.

Methamphetamine

Senators Feinstein and Grassley File Methamphetamine Response Act. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last Thursday introduced the Methamphetamine Response Act, a bill declaring methamphetamine an emerging drug threat which would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to develop, implement and make public a national plan to prevent methamphetamine addiction and overdoses from becoming a crisis.

Psychedelics

Washington, DC, Natural Psychedelics Initiative Qualifies for the Ballot. The DC Board of Elections announced last Wednesday that Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, has qualified for the November ballot. The act would effectively decriminalize the use and possession of natural psychedelics by making the enforcement of laws against them the lowest priority.

International

World Anti-Doping Association to Shorten Punishments for Recreational Drug Offenses. Beginning next January, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will no longer issue long suspensions for athletes testing positive for recreational drugs out of competition. Instead of being banned for two years, the athletes will now be banned for one to three months. "If the athlete can establish that any ingestion or use occurred out of competition and was unrelated to sport performance, then the period of ineligibility shall be three months," WADA's new code says. "In addition, the period of ineligibility calculated... may be reduced to one month if the athlete or other person satisfactorily completes a substance of abuse treatment program approved by the Anti-Doping Organization."

British Tory Drug Reform Group Calls for Rescheduling Psilocybin. The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) has published a new report with the Adam Smith Institute outlining the potential medical benefits of psilocybin and urging the UK Home Office to reschedule the compound for research purposes. The not-for-profit group also urges the Home Office to reduce regulatory restrictions on the compound to allow for research into its medical efficacy. The report is Medicinal use of psilocybin: Reducing restrictions on research and treatment.

Colombia's Former President Uribe Placed on House Arrest During Investigation of Ties to Drug Cartels, Paramilitary Groups. Last Thursday, President Ivan Duque announced that former President Alvaro Uribe will be held in custody as the Supreme Court investigates allegations of witness tampering. Uribe, president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010, has long been accused of criminal activities, including having ties to drug cartels and paramilitary groups. He is currently accused of being a founding member of a rightist paramilitary group involved in the decades-long conflict between the government and leftist rebels.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a funder of StoptheDrugWar.org.

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