Election 2020: Psychedelics on the Poll in Washington D.C.

Election 2020: Psychedelics on the Ballot in Washington D.C.

Oregon isn't the only jurisdiction where psilocybin (and other controlled psychedelic botanicals) will be voted this fall. Our coverage of Oregon's Measure 109 can be found at:

Across the country, our nation's capital has its own psychedelics electoral initiative, Initiative 81, officially known as the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020. Some news organizations have labeled Initiative 81 a "decriminalization" move, but it is. It is important to recognize that psychedelics in DC Initiative 81 are not "legal" even if Initiative 81 is successful.

  • It makes the "investigation and arrest of adults for non-commercial planting, cultivation, purchase, transportation, distribution, possession and / or practice of entheogenic plants and fungi practices among the lowest priorities of the Metropolitan Police Department"; and
  • Codified that "the people of the District of Columbia will urge the District Attorney General and the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia to cease prosecuting District of Columbia residents for these activities."

So Initiative 81 does not mean that people cannot be prosecuted for possession, cultivation, etc. of psilocybin, and it does not make psilocybin “legal” in any way. Psilocybin remains a List 1 drug, which means the DEA has a high likelihood of abuse and no accepted medical use – just like marijuana. (Although the FDA only granted breakthrough psilocybin status for its potential in the treatment of depression last year.)

Rather than "legalizing" psilocybin in any way, Initiative 81 merely states that the war on drugs should be a low priority for law enforcement on DC regarding psilocybin. In this regard, Initiative 81 is similar to Measure 301, passed in Denver, Colorado, in 2019 and other measures passed in Santa Cruz and Oakland, Calif., And Ann Arbor, Michigan.

One of the results of Initiative 81 is that "practices involving entheogenic plants and fungi have been around for a long time, have been sacred for millennia in a number of cultures and religions, and continue to be improved and improved". For more information on the use of psychedelics for religious purposes on this subject, see this excellent article by my colleague Griffen Thorne and this article.

We at the law Law Blog support Initiative 81 as well as Measure 109 and encourage our readers to vote yes on a DC basis! For more information on psilocybin, visit: