Initiative 81 explained


WASHINGTON (WDVM) — District of Columbia voters are faced with a long ballot for the November general election. The ballot has everything from neighborhood commission seats to city council seats to President of the United States. Also on the ballot, is Initiative 81.

Campaign signs can be seen on virtually every street in the District. Voters are faced with a multitude of choices and might tune them out. However, residents fighting for Initiative 81 are asking people to take note.

Melissa Lavasani is the Chairwoman for Decriminalize Nature DC and spearheading the Initiative 81 ballot measure. She explained, “All we’re doing is asking MPD to move the offenses with (psychedelic plants) amongst the lowest law enforcement priority. Meaning, it would be similar to jaywalking, for example.”

Reprioritizing the enforcement is personal to people like Lavasani. She explained, “I experienced really severe postpartum depression after the birth of my son. I was in the place where I was ready to take my own life, and that’s a really scary place to be, especially when you have two little ones at home who really need you.” Lavasani said that after microdosing on psilocybin, more commonly recognized as “magic mushrooms,” her depression was cured.

“What these plants can do is they lift that out of you,” she said. “They clear your head of those ruminating thought patterns and allow you to look objectively at your life and what kind of changes you can make in your life.” She said that like many people, she used to have preconceived notions about people who took psychedelic mushrooms.

Lavasani said, “I had an idea in my mind that these people are just partying with them and escaping reality, but really there’s a growing body of research that is supporting the use of these for really serious mental health issues.” She hopes that passing this bill will not only help people treat mental illness without added stress over getting arrested, but also pave the way for researchers to learn more about the effects.

“We’re just at the tip of the iceberg here. There’s many potential applications for these plant medicines. We just need to research it, and a win here could definitely push the federal government toward that direction,” she said.

Early voting starts on Tuesday, October 27. Initiative 81 will be found on the back of DC ballots.

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