DC ballot initiative could decriminalize psychedelic plants, like magic mushrooms, in the city

This Election Day, voters in Washington, D.C., will consider a measure that, if approved, would effectively decriminalize the use of psychedelic plants, like ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms, more commonly known as magic mushrooms.

Initiative 81, or the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, would make the investigation and arrest for adult cultivation and use of psychedelic plants one of the lowest law enforcement priorities for the district’s police department. It also contains a non-binding clause asking the D.C. attorney general to not prosecute anyone charged with an offense related to the substances.

Melissa Lavasani, a mom and D.C. government employee who proposed the initiative, called the measure a “small step” toward ending the war on drugs.

“We believe that there is a growing body of research around these substances, and there’s a lot of interest in the research community,” she said. “And our laws should adapt to what the research has indicated.”

The district would follow Denver, Oakland, California and Santa Clara, California, in decriminalizing some or all psychedelic plants. Voters in Oregon are also considering a similar measure, which would set up treatment facilities using psilocybin mushrooms, but would not decriminalize them.

Lavasani saw the success of the decriminalization campaign in Denver and began advocating for a similar measure in the district. She knew the therapeutic value of psychedelics personally after using psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca to treat severe postpartum depression.

PHOTO: A vendor poses with harvested psilocybin mushrooms, May 19, 2019 in Denver.

A vendor poses with harvested psilocybin mushrooms, May 19, 2019 in Denver.

“I had zero experience with depression or any real mental health issues,” Lavasani said. “I’ve had a pretty regular, good life. And I had never been in that situation before and I was struggling terribly.”

At the time, she sought a more natural way of treating depression (through cognitive behavioral therapy and other methods), but nothing was working for her.

“At that point in time, I was contemplating suicide because I was so miserable, and my family was really suffering with me,” she said. “I didn’t really see a way out.”

Then, Lavasani came across an interview with mycologist Paul Stamets on the Joe Rogan podcast, in which Stamets talked about the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin mushrooms. After doing her own research, Lavasani decided to try them.

“I would take it in the morning and within a matter of days I started to get my humanity back,” she said. “I started to feel like I used to. I was engaging with my children and I was engaging with my husband again, and the whole world lit up for me.”

But despite how much her mental health improved, the fear of being arrested for using the Schedule I drug persisted.

“It’s a frightening thought to work your entire life for your career and to build your family and to know that it can all be wiped out with one person finding this information out and reporting it to the police,” Lavasani said. “I

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In 2020, the future of health care is on your ballot

America’s health care system is at the root of every political question — from the coronavirus response and the economy to our national security. Without access to quality and affordable health care, Americans cannot succeed.

While then-candidate Donald Trump was mounting his historic presidential campaign in 2016, I was practicing medicine and caring for patients in central Pennsylvania, working in our nation’s broken health care system and fighting every day for my patients.

Four years later, much has changed — both in my own life and in our nation; and yet, health care remains the paramount issue in this election.

Now in Congress, I am proud to serve as one of the few policymakers who have navigated America’s health care system as a doctor, a patient, and a legislator. It is my privilege to work alongside President Donald Trump to deliver results for American patients.

In his first term, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden’s ’60 Minutes’ interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought ‘9/11 attack was 7/11 attack’ MORE has worked hard to lower prescription drug costs, expand Americans’ health care choices, and invest in lifesaving innovation for the 21st century. He signed landmark legislation including Right to Try and the childhood cancer-fighting STAR Act into law, offering hope to American patients and their families. The Trump administration also has undertaken unprecedented efforts to combat the drug crisis, as well as to support hurting families and Americans in recovery.

Republicans know that improving America’s health care system goes beyond repealing the less than-Affordable Care Act. It’s imperative that we enact solutions to protect Americans with preexisting conditions, lower health care costs, and affirm patients’ ability to make choices that work for them. To put it simply — if you like your doctor, you should be able to keep your doctor.

Health care is also a matter of national security. Especially as Americans continue to combat the coronavirus crisis, we must prevent future pandemics from reaching our shores. Now more than ever, American leaders must act to secure our supply chains — especially for medicines and other health care supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) — and return the manufacturing of these items back to America and to our allies. Our nation can no longer allow the Chinese Communist Party to control Americans’ access to medical supplies.

As President Trump and Republicans in Congress stand up to China, protect Medicare, and safeguard seniors’ access to quality and affordable health care, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden’s ’60 Minutes’ interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought ‘9/11 attack was 7/11 attack’ MORE continues to embrace the radical left and its spiral toward socialized medicine.

Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSix notable moments from Trump and Biden’s ’60

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Billions of Dollars for Stem Cell Research Institute On California’s November Ballot

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—In an election year dominated by a chaotic presidential race and splashy statewide ballot initiative campaigns, Californians are being asked to weigh in on the value of stem cell research—again.

Proposition 14 would authorize the state to borrow $5.5 billion to keep financing the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), currently the second-largest funder of stem cell research in the world. Factoring in interest payments, the measure could cost the state roughly $7.8 billion over about 30 years, according to an estimate from the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

In 2004, voters approved Proposition 71, a $3 billion bond, to be repaid with interest over 30 years. The measure got the state agency up and running and was designed to seed research.

During that first campaign, voters were told research funded by the measure could lead to cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating diseases, and that the state could reap millions in royalties from new treatments.

Yet most of those ambitions remain unfulfilled.

“I think the initial promises were a little optimistic,” said Kevin McCormack, CIRM’s senior director of public communications, about how quickly research would yield cures. “You can’t rush this kind of work.”

So advocates are back after 16 years for more research money, and to increase the size of the state agency.

Stem cells hold great potential for medicine because of their ability to develop into different types of cells in the body, and to repair and renew tissue.

When the first bond measure was adopted in 2004, the George W. Bush administration refused to fund stem cell research at the national level because of opposition to the use of one kind of stem cell: human embryonic stem cells. They derive from fertilized eggs, which has made them controversial among politicians who oppose abortion.

Federal funding resumed in 2009, and thus far this year the National Institutes of Health has spent about $321 million on human embryonic stem cell research.

But advocates for Proposition 14 say the ability to do that research is still tenuous. In September, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to cut off those funds once again.

The funding from California’s original bond measure was used to create the new state institute and fund grants to conduct research at California hospitals and universities for diseases such as blood cancer and kidney failure. The money has paid for 90 clinical trials.

A 2019 report from the University of Southern California concluded the center has contributed about $10.7 billion to the California economy, which includes hiring, construction and attracting more research dollars to the state. CIRM funds more than 56,500 jobs, more than half of which are considered high-paying.

Despite the campaign promises, just two treatments developed with some help from CIRM have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the past 13 years, one for leukemia and one for scarring of the bone marrow.

But it’s a bit of a stretch for the institute to take

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2 drug measures on Oregon ballot

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — War veterans with PTSD, terminally ill patients and others suffering from anxiety are backing a ballot measure that would legalize controlled, therapeutic use in Oregon of psilocybin mushrooms, which they say has helped them immeasurably.

“After chemo failed, I went to a pretty dark place,” said Mara McGraw, a Portland woman who has terminal cancer. “I was feeling hopeless about treatment and about the future.”

Then she tried the psychedelic mushroom, more commonly known as “magic mushrooms,” with a trained facilitator standing by.


“It was a very safe and nurturing experience for me. I immediately felt a release from the fear,” McGraw told a video news conference.

On the national level, a clinical trial of psilocybin is underway to test its potential antidepressant properties, the U.S. government’s National Library of Medicine says. Backers of Measure 109 say the state, which was the first in the nation to decriminalize marijuana, should lead the way in legalizing therapeutic, regulated use of psilocybin, often referred to as magic mushrooms.

A second Oregon ballot question, Measure 110, would decriminalize possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD, oxycodone and some other drugs. Its backers say drug addiction is a health issue and should not cause people to be imprisoned and saddled with criminal records. If Oregon voters approve Measure 110, the state would be the first to decriminalize those drugs.

The psilocybin initiative, however, is about overcoming depression, supporters say.

“An estimated 1 in every 5 adults in Oregon is coping with a mental health condition,” 20 doctors and other health care workers wrote in the voters pamphlet. “We support Measure 109 because it provides a new treatment for many that might break through where others fall short.”

It would require the Oregon Health Authority to allow licensed, regulated production and possession of psilocybin exclusively for administration by licensed facilitators to clients. There would be a two-year development period for the program.

The only argument in opposition in the pamphlet came from the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

“We believe that science does not yet indicate that psilocybin is a safe medical treatment for mental health conditions,” the groups said.

But several military veterans believe psilocybin therapy is a life-saver, especially when suicide among veterans is so high. Some 20 veterans die by suicide each day in the U.S., about 1.5 times higher than those who have not served in the military.

Chad Kuske said he developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving as a Navy SEAL for 18 years with 12 combat deployments,

“I was really suffering from stress, anxiety, depression. I was angry all the time,” Kuske said. Then a former member of his team visited Kuske in Portland on his way to a psilocybin therapy session. Through his friend, Kuske also signed up for one.

“I’m very fortunate that that I was able to find this therapy, administered by people who care and who really had my best interests in mind and do it

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2 drug legalization measures on Oregon ballot

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — War veterans with PTSD, terminally ill patients and others suffering from anxiety are backing a ballot measure that would legalize controlled, therapeutic use in Oregon of psilocybin mushrooms, which they say has helped them immeasurably.

“After chemo failed, I went to a pretty dark place,” said Mara McGraw, a Portland woman who has terminal cancer. “I was feeling hopeless about treatment and about the future.”

Then she tried the psychedelic mushroom, more commonly known as “magic mushrooms,” with a trained facilitator standing by.


“It was a very safe and nurturing experience for me. I immediately felt a release from the fear,” McGraw told a video news conference.

On the national level, a clinical trial of psilocybin is underway to test its potential antidepressant properties, the U.S. government’s National Library of Medicine says. Backers of Measure 109 say the state, which was the first in the nation to decriminalize marijuana, should lead the way in legalizing therapeutic, regulated use of psilocybin, often referred to as magic mushrooms.

A second Oregon ballot question, Measure 110, would decriminalize possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD, oxycodone and some other drugs. Its backers say drug addiction is a health issue and should not cause people to be imprisoned and saddled with criminal records. If Oregon voters approve Measure 110, the state would be the first to decriminalize those drugs.

The psilocybin initiative, however, is about overcoming depression, supporters say.

“An estimated 1 in every 5 adults in Oregon is coping with a mental health condition,” 20 doctors and other health care workers wrote in the voters pamphlet. “We support Measure 109 because it provides a new treatment for many that might break through where others fall short.”

It would require the Oregon Health Authority to allow licensed, regulated production and possession of psilocybin exclusively for administration by licensed facilitators to clients. There would be a two-year development period for the program.

The only argument in opposition in the pamphlet came from the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

“We believe that science does not yet indicate that psilocybin is a safe medical treatment for mental health conditions,” the groups said.

But several military veterans believe psilocybin therapy is a life-saver, especially when suicide among veterans is so high. Some 20 veterans die by suicide each day in the U.S., about 1.5 times higher than those who have not served in the military.

Chad Kuske said he developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving as a Navy SEAL for 18 years with 12 combat deployments,

“I was really suffering from stress, anxiety, depression. I was angry all the time,” Kuske said. Then a former member of his team visited Kuske in Portland on his way to a psilocybin therapy session. Through his friend, Kuske also signed up for one.

“I’m very fortunate that that I was able to find this therapy, administered by people who care and who really had my best interests in mind and do it

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