October 1, 2020 – On September 21, the City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan voted unanimously to decriminalize naturally occurring psychedelics. It becomes the fourth US city in two years to adopt such a reform. However, lawmakers added a late amendment to the resolution that alters its scope. Commercial manufacture and sales, driving under the influence, “public disturbance” and distribution in schools will remain firmly illegal.
The city also calls upon the Washtenaw County prosecutor to stop charging people for offenses related to use of these drugs. The resolution cites clinical research, anecdotal evidence, and historical and traditional use of psychedelics for medicinal, therapeutic and spiritual purposes.
The sponsors of the resolution, local group Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor, feel that while the reform is unlikely to have a large impact on criminal justice in the city, it still helps to push a necessary conversation about drugs. “We think this move is more symbolic of what is already happening in Ann Arbor,” Myc Williams, the group’s communications director, told Filter. “According to the chief of police there have only been six arrests in Ann Arbor since 2017, and none in 2020.”
Williams suggested that the successful vote allows groups like his to move forward with public education around psychedelics, so people can talk about how to use them safely. “[We are] working closely with Michigan Psychedelic Society and Michigan DanceSafe to provide educational materials and resources,” he said, “as well as creating a ‘community container,’ to not only address education and safe consumption, but also ensure that communities that stand to benefit most and are hardest to reach have equity in access, provide spaces for integration, and continue the conversation.”