GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A third Michigan city has passed a resolution to decriminalize psychedelic plants and fungi, instructing local police to make enforcing those laws the lowest level of priority.
The Hazel Park City Council took the step last week, following similar language passed in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Washtenaw County. Hazel Park is in metro Detroit.
According to WDIV-TV, under the new resolution, no city resources will be used in any investigation, detention, arrest or prosecution that stems from any alleged violation of state or federal laws. The resolution, however, does not make the substances explicitly legal.
Decriminalize Nature is a nonprofit that started in Oakland, California, in 2019 and has now spread to more than 50 cities across the United States. The group believes that the federal government’s war on drugs was a failed mission that led to mass incarceration and that drug policies need to be change. It also cites several studies that highlight the effective medicinal use of psychedelics on a wide range of mental health disorders.
While there is similar support in parts of West Michigan, local leaders are taking a different approach. Kurt Reppart, a member of the Grand Rapids City Commission, has worked alongside the Grand Rapids chapter of Decriminalize Nature. The group helped lead the push in the city. Last September, the city commission voted in support of decriminalizing plants and fungi at the local, state and national level.
While psychedelics are already considered a low enforcement priority for Grand Rapids police, there’s no official resolution to maintain that action. Reppart doesn’t expect one, either.
“The group is always looking for opportunities to keep educating the community and we are looking for the appropriate channel to re-introduce the conversation about decriminalization,” Reppart told News 8. “It will not be in the form of a resolution, but working with the city attorney, staff and (the Grand Rapids Police Department) to determine what low-level offenses can be safely decriminalized and what is the best process to handle that policy change.”
There is also action at the state level to decriminalize plants and fungi. On Monday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved the language for a ballot petition.
The proposal is wide-ranging. Not only would it reclassify psychedelic plants and fungi and allow for them to be grown and sold, but it would also reduce the maximum penalty for possession of nonprescribed drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor charge. It would also prohibit the prosecution for minuscule amounts of drugs found on paraphernalia.
The group behind the ballot question, Michigan Initiative for Community Healing, now must collect approximately 350,000 valid signatures and submit them by June 1 to qualify for the November ballot.
Kat Ebert, the founder and former president of the Michigan State University chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, supported the effort in a release.
“Young people across the country have been calling on our elected officials for safe and sensible drug policies to be implemented for decades,” Ebert stated. “This is an opportunity for the people of Michigan to make history by coming together to pass policy that’s centered around compassion instead of criminalization.”