Thanks to Mlive for this:
YPSILANTI, MI – Ypsilanti has joined more than two dozen cities across the country by embracing the personal use of “psychedelic mushrooms” and other psychedelic plants and fungi.
City leaders voted unanimously on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024 to effectively decriminalize a spectrum of plants deemed illegal under state and federal law.
They include ayahuasca, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms and other plants and plant substances with hallucinogenic properties.
“By passing this policy today you will forever be remembered as stewards of consciousness, cognitive liberty and personal spiritual growth for all,” said Larry Norris, a California resident and University of Michigan alumnus who co-founded the advocacy group Decriminalize Nature, during the Tuesday meeting.
Ypsilanti joins Detroit, Ferndale, Hazel Park and Ann Arbor in backing off criminal investigation and penalties associated with so-called entheogenic plants and fungi.
The Ypsilanti resolution passed Tuesday declares that the investigation and arrest of people “involved with the personal use, growth, and possession of entheogenic plants, including those scheduled at the state and federal levels, be the lowest priority for the city of Ypsilanti.”
The resolution prohibits the use of city funds or resources in investigating, detaining or prosecuting violations of law dealing with the plants. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office has already rolled out a policy not to prosecute their use, growth or possession.
The Ypsilanti policy does not authorize commercial sales or manufacturing of psychedelic plants and fungi, nor possession in schools, driving under the influence or causing any public disturbance.
None of that has been a concern in Ann Arbor, which took the same step in 2020, said former Ann Arbor City Council Member Anne Bannister during the Tuesday Ypsilanti meeting.
“There has been no downside, and I am not aware of any trouble that has resulted from it. It’s all been a positive,” she said.
Advocates with Decriminalize Nature Michigan have in recent months urged Ypsilanti leaders to take the step, and area residents have shared stories of using psychedelics plants to help treat addiction, depression and other mental health problems.
Michelle Donaldson, a Ferndale resident, said on Tuesday that using mushrooms she grew herself helped with healing when she stopped drinking alcohol. “These plants have saved my life, they’ve saved my marriage, they’ve helped me be a better mom, a better person,” Donaldson told Ypsilanti leaders.
The plants have transformative power, others said.
“If it means anything to be an American, it means to be able to use the plants that grow out of the ground for your own benefit,” said Charles Ream, who said he had worked on the campaign to legalize medical marijuana. “We do this for therapy, we do this for spiritual value, we do this to solve all sorts of problems,” Ream said.
Some Ypsilanti City Council members thanked members of the public for sharing their experiences ahead of the vote to approve the decriminalization resolution.
“It’s a long history, there’s a lot that can be done with this. You’ve given a great testimony, and there’s lots of studies that show these are very beneficial in terms of alleviating addiction,” said Council Member Steve Wilcoxen.
Fellow Council Member Desirae Simmons moved to amend the resolution to have it sent to law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction in Ypsilanti but are outside of city control, like the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety and Michigan State Police.
City leaders can only require their own police department to follow the policy, but the message can be communicated to other agencies, Mayor Nicole Brown said.
Ypsilanti joins 27 communities nationwide that have taken a similar step, according to Norris.
In general, criminalization has a disproportionate impact on Black people and people of color, said Ypsilanti-based decriminalization activist Cornelius Williams on Tuesday.
“Though addressing systemic inequities that perpetuate systems that are largely failing citizens will not elicit change overnight, policy changes on the municipal level play a role in shaping state and federal policy,” Williams said.