Michigan has had legal recreational cannabis since 2018, and is now looking to up the ante. A new bill introduced in the Michigan senate, would make Michigan the first state to legalize recreational psychedelics. This is incredible in a country where not only are psychedelics federally illegal, but only one state – Oregon – has anything similar, what with a medical legalization for psilocybin, which also decriminalizes recreational use. Will Michigan really push through recreational psychedelics?
Cannabis and psychedelics restrictions are loosening everywhere, with Michigan looking to be the 1st state to legalize recreational psychedelics if legislation goes through. The growth of the cannabis industry has helped this along, while also providing us with a bunch of great new products that were never available before. Like delta-8 THC, a different kind of THC which doesn’t make users anxious, or produce cloudy heads, or couch locking, while providing virtually the same medical benefits. In fact, there are tons of compounds from the cannabis plant that interested users can try. Take a look at our deals for delta-8 THC, delta 10 thc, THC-O, THCV, THC-P, HHC and even hemp-derived delta 9 thc, and see how big the world of weed has gotten.
Is this for real?
Indeed it is. Thursday, September 3rd, 2021, the Michigan Senate introduced SB 631 which would officially legalize the cultivation, delivery, creation, and possession of recreational psychedelics derived from plants, which include compounds like psilocybin and mescaline. This would be on a personal level only, with the bill stating that “receiving money or other valuable consideration for the entheogenic plant or fungus” would still be illegal. However, the bill would force the update of the state statute to not allow criminal penalties for these actions when done on an individual basis.
While this is called a ‘legalization’ in some places, and a ‘decriminalization’ in others, as there is no stated punishment whatsoever, this would qualify as a legalization. Decriminalization measures do come with civil penalties, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. And since its not specific to medical disorders, it’s not specifically for medical use. To be more precise, the co-authors of the bill want the legalization of plants used for religious reasons, but there doesn’t seem to be any caveat about requiring anything formal to show religious intent, meaning it would be open to anyone. Since the government can’t tell a person when or how to be spiritual, it would be incredibly hard to put legal boundaries on spiritual use.
The bill specifies the exception of both cannabis (which we knew), as well as “a substance listed in section 7212”, from Controlled Substance violations. It states: “An individual is not in violation of this section if the individual manufactures, creates, delivers, or possesses with intent to manufacture, create, or deliver an entheogenic plant or fungus without receiving money or other valuable consideration for the entheogenic plant or fungus.”
Since money can’t be transferred, according to the bill, no commercial market would be started. However, having said that, it does allow individuals to charge a fee for services like counseling, spiritual guidance, or any other service related to the use of entheogenic plants. So, a person can’t sell the plants to another person, but a person can charge another person to counsel them through a trip.
The bill doesn’t speak about ‘psychedelics’, so much as ‘entheogenic substances’. An entheogen is a “psychoactive, hallucinogenic substance or preparation (such as psilocybin or ayahuasca) especially when derived from plants or fungi and used in religious, spiritual, or ritualistic contexts.” Michigan’s bill would allow for recreational psychedelics in the form of plants and fungi which are natural producers of the substances DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocyn.
Two democratic senators brought forth the bill: Sens. Jeff Irwin and Adam Hollier. The bill comes as the result of a strong push in Michigan for psychedelics reform, headed by activist group Decriminalize Nature, which has been pushing local city councils within the state to reform current laws. In fact, Michigan stands out as a central point for the psychedelics movement, partly because of the activist groups, and the work they do. This is still quite a big step, though, so whether it can actually pass into law remains to be seen.
What’s the current status of psychedelics in Michigan?
Michigan and its current bill to legalize recreational psychedelics, is just the latest move in a state which has already made a lot of progress in loosening up restrictions for psychedelics. Last year Ann Arbor’s city council decriminalized entheogenic plants, and the city even designated (officially, as per governmental resolution) the month of September as ‘Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month’. When the legislation was passed, it was announced by a county prosecutor that no charges will be pursued for possessing entheogenic plants and fungi, and this regardless of the amount in question.
Elsewhere in the state, Grand Rapids is currently working to enact policy changes for psychedelics. It’s expected that by fall of this year, the city will ‘de-prioritize possession, cultivation, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi.’ How is de-prioritization different from decriminalization? Decriminalization is when criminal penalties are taken away, but still with legal consequences of some kind. De-prioritization means it’s simply not a priority to do something about it, whether it has criminal penalties or not. In this case, according to Kurt Reppart, Grand Rapid’s City Commissioner, it’s “allowing for what’s called the ‘grow, gift, gather’ model… outside of that, the rest of this is illegal.”
Apart from the locations mentioned, psychedelics are not legal in Michigan for medical or recreational use, and are currently on the state’s Controlled Substances list, with fines and jail time attached for offenders.
Where does Michigan stand with cannabis?
Michigan is certainly showing itself to be one of the more forward-thinking states when it comes to getting rid of antiquated drug laws. Back in 2008, Michigan legalized medical cannabis via the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative, which was passed on November 4th of that year. This bill came with measures for the possession of up to 2.5 ounces for medical patients, and allowed patients and caregivers to cultivate up to 12 plants. This measure was approved by voters overwhelmingly. The bill did not come with the inclusion of dispensaries, however, that was amended in 2016, when Governor Rick Snyder signed a set of bills, which allowed a commercial market to open for medicinal use.
Then in 2018, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act was passed to legalize and regulate an adult-use market, for those 21 and above. The new law allows adult residents to carry up to 2.5 grams on their person in public, and have up to 10 ounces at home, along with the ability to cultivate up to 12 plants. The bill passed by ballot measure with Proposal 1, with nearly 56% of voters in support.
In order to get the initiative on the 2018 ballot, some 365,000 signatures were collected and submitted in 2017 for recreational cannabis legalization. The initiative was officially certified on April 26th of that year by the state, and by election time, voters were able to decide the fate of recreational marijuana in their state.
To give an idea of just how much Michigan seems to be into cannabis, the state created the very first Cannabis Studies Degree a few years ago, which is offered by Michigan Universities. This four-year degree teaches all about cannabis, from growing the plants, to processing into products, to laws and regulations concerning it. Since that time, many more universities have opened up similar programs in other states.
The psychedelics movement is picking up in the US
If the Michigan bill passes to legalize recreational psychedelics, it would make Michigan the first state to legalize the recreational use of psychedelics, even if it wouldn’t immediately create a commercial market. But Michigan isn’t the only state to make headway in the fight to end prohibition laws for psychedelics. One of the biggest recent wins came from Oregon, which put Measure 109 on the 2020 ballot, which authorized the creation of a program to allow licensed providers to medically administer plants containing psilocybin for those 21 and above. The measure passed with 55.75% of the vote, and also worked to decriminalize the drug under other non-medical circumstances.
Plenty of locations in the US also have decriminalization measures for psychedelics including Denver, Colorado, which was the first to pass such a measure in 2019 to decriminalize psilocybin. In California, Oakland and Santa Cruz did the same later that year and in the beginning of 2020, respectively. Washington DC decriminalized psilocybin in November 2020 through Initiative 81, which also included ayahuasca, and mescaline. Massachusetts saw similar policies set in Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton in January, February, and April of 2021 respectively.
Aside from these places where decriminalization measures have already been set, plenty more locations are working on getting policies through local governments. California, for one, is looking to put a ballot measure before voters in 2022, which would legalize the possession and sale of psilocybin, thus creating the first legal market if it does happen. In Denver, which was first to decriminalize, there are plans to expand the current laws to decriminalize noncommercial gifting and communal use of these plants.
Massachusetts, which already has three decriminalized locations, is subsequently looking to pass a bill that would create a taskforce to study implications of psychedelic legalizations. Connecticut has newly signed legislation which requires the state to study the therapeutic value of psilocybin. Texas did the same in terms of how these substances can be used for military veterans, and New York too has passed legislation requiring a facility to be established to research psychedelic benefits medically.
In Seattle, legislators are interested in how ayahuasca and ibogaine can be used specifically to help deal with the massive opioid issue, and in neighboring Oregon, which still leads the way, there is a push for cultivation, gifting, and religious use of many other psychedelics other than psilocybin, to be legalized. Oregon voters have already approved a measure to decriminalize the possession of all illicit drugs.
Beyond all this, it should be remembered that not only has the FDA earmarked both psilocybin and MDMA as ‘breakthrough therapies’, meant to get products to market faster, but the DEA just recently proposed a massive increase in the amount of cannabis and psilocybin to be produced for scientific research, meaning two government agencies are very clearly pushing for greater psychedelic awareness and use. And of course, esketamine, a close relative of ketamine, is already legal in the US for medical use for major depression and suicidal thoughts.
It’s hard to say whether this new Michigan bill to legalize psychedelics will go through, as this is obviously a contentious subject. However, laws are progressing very quickly, and in light of how cannabis has gained so much traction, it makes sense that psychedelics will enjoy the same benefits, especially as so much positive medical evidence is coming out on them. Much like with cannabis, if more and more states break with federal code, there will eventually come a time when the US government will be forced to legalize, or accept that it has no power over its states.
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