An initiative that would in effect decriminalize several psychedelic substances in the nation’s capitol has officially been cleared for inclusion on the November ballot. The official announcement that the advocates had met all the requirements was made on Wednesday when the Board of Elections had a virtual meeting.
Last month, Decriminalize Nature D.C. submitted the voter signatures they had collected during an exercise that was made even more difficult by the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant social distancing regulations intended to contain the virus.
The unique challenges of this campaign prompted advocates from around the country to fly to the capitol in order to help make the signature gathering exercise a success. The campaigners needed to collect at least 24,835 valid signatures of voters and a total of 35,000 signatures were turned in by the deadline.
The campaigners observed the validation process and revealed last week that they had made the cut even if an official announcement to that effect wouldn’t be made until early this month. Now the board has confirmed that the group turned in 25,477 valid voter signatures.
This announcement means that the voters in Washington, D.C. will have an opportunity to decide the fate of the initiative come November. If the measure gets voter approval, entheogenic substances, such as ayahuasca and psilocybin, will become the lowest priorities of the law enforcement agencies in the district.
In the meantime, Decriminalize Nature D.C., the group behind the initiative, is busy planning its communication strategy in order to educate voters about the ballot measure before them. This next phase will also be marred by the ongoing pandemic and the stay at home measures which have been instituted to control its spread.
Melissa Lavasani, the chair of the Washington, D.C. chapter of Decriminalize Nature, says she is excited that residents will have a chance in November to change the outdated laws which criminalize the people who resort to using natural substances in order to combat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental conditions.
She adds that she is confident that Initiative 81 will get voter support so that a major step is taken to roll back the destructive and senseless war on drugs.
This step taken by advocates in Washington, D.C. is the latest in a series of successes scored by the psychedelics reform movement. In May last year, Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin, and it was quickly followed by Oakland and Santa Cruz in California. Currently, Decriminalize Nature groups have been established in various states and cities to push for the decriminalization and eventual legalization of various psychedelic substances. Entities like Salvation Botanicals may be banking on this growing support to consolidate their presence in the market.
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