Ann Arbor, Michigan, first decriminalized cannabis back in the 1970s and the town’s progressive policy was one of the inspirations behind my first political campaign experience co-authoring cannabis law reform measures three decades later while attending law school in Columbia, Missouri, another forward-thinking college town. It’s great to see Ann Arbor now helping lead the way on sensible psychedelics legislation by first making entheogenic plants and fungi, such as ayahuasca, ibogaine, mescaline, peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority, effectively decriminalizing them. The Ann Arbor City Council followed up the lowest law enforcement provision by officially declaring September to be Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Awareness Month, and a yearly psychedelic mushroom festival has been established to celebrate, as MLive.com reported:
“City Council voted 10-0 to approve the resolution Monday night, Aug. 16, in hopes of increasing awareness and understanding of the potential benefits of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic plants and fungi ‘for mental health, personal and spiritual growth, as well as honoring the longstanding ancestral practices and relationships with these entheogens.’
To celebrate the anniversary of Ann Arbor’s decriminalization move, there will be a ‘sacred plant and mushroom festival’ called Entheo Fest every September in Ann Arbor, starting next month on Sept. 19, states the resolution City Council approved Monday night.
“’We’re going to have Entheo Fest here in Ann Arbor and I think it’s kind of exciting that we’re exploring these new boundaries, that we’re looking at alternatives to mental health solutions, improvements to mental health solutions, and so on,’ said Council Member Jeff Hayner, D-1st Ward, the resolution’s lead sponsor, adding he’s been moved by people’s personal stories of how psychedelics bettered their lives.”
It’s no coincidence that cities like Ann Arbor and states like Oregon that have been pioneers on cannabis policy are also leading the way on drug policy. It’s very fitting that Entheo Fest will be held at the the University of Michigan Diag, the same venue as the long-running Hash Bash that occurs every April. With scientific developments demonstrating the medicinal benefits of psychedelics and more and more people realizing that the Drug War has been a harmful failure, we will start seeing more and more jurisdictions follow in Ann Arbor’s footsteps. A sincere thanks to the Ann Arbor City Council and all advocates, concerned citizens, and elected officials who are helping lead the way towards a more sane, sensible, and compassionate healthcare model that invests in people instead of more prisons.