How magic mushrooms could become Michigan’s next frontier — and why it matters

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Here's a question that you're probably pondering: what in the hell is next for Michigan's magic mushroom and entheogenic plant and fungi movement?

Well, for one, Decriminalize Nature Michigan, and it's respective local chapters, have gained traction in Grand Rapids, where the city commission voted 5-2 on a resolution that would support decriminalization across local, state, and federal levels. Next year, the organization anticipates Lansing, East Lansing, Hazel Park, and Ypsilanti will introduce proposals like those approved in Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Right now, all eyes are on state Senate Bill No. 631, which was introduced in September by Democratic Sen. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor, and co-sponsored by Detroit's self-described "square" Sen. Adam Hollier. The bill makes a case for the therapeutic use, possession, and non-commercial cultivation of magic mushrooms, DMT, and mescaline (the active ingredient in peyote), which would also make them "exempt from criminal prosecution in certain circumstances."

"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," the bill reads.

Hollier says his choice to co-sponsor Irwin's bill was a no-brainer.

"It may seem silly, but I just think people should be able to do more things and fewer things should be criminal," Hollier tells Metro Times. "We elect way too many people based on things that don't impact our neighbors or friends. And we draw arbitrary moral lines about what people think are acceptable or unacceptable when there's no data or information to suggest that magic mushrooms or marijuana are more dangerous than prescription drugs, or alcohol or cigarettes," he says. "I've often thought about how much better off our society would be if we did not make drugs illegal, but, instead, highly regulated."

“I don’t think there’s anybody in this world who’s going to argue that these natural substances are more dangerous than fentanyl.”

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He insists he can't tell the difference between a marijuana joint and the smell of a Black & Mild — proof that he may indeed be a square when it comes to drugs and substances and partying — but that doesn't reflect his approach to backing progressive policies like that of Bill No. 631. He was also far from surprised by Detroit's passage of Proposal E. Like, not at all.

"What is it we don't like about drugs?" he says. "We don't like people having cash and guns. If you can put your money in the bank, you know what you don't need? A big stack of cash underneath your mattress and somebody protecting that money with a gun, which means that there's no industry around robbing you. So the violence is taken away. Naturally, Detroiters were supportive of having less violence in their community. But I don't think there's anybody in this world who's going to argue that these natural substances are more dangerous than fentanyl."

Activists and those associated with the Decriminalize Nature Michigan chapters are concerned that the bill might stall out without GOP support, considering the Republican-led Legislature rarely moves Democrat-introduced bills. But one of the most attractive parts of the bill has to do with money in exchange for services.

While the bill would decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi while prohibiting the commercial production and sales of these substances, what it offers is the potential for clinical practitioners to be able to charge a "reasonable fee for counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service that is provided in conjunction with the use of an entheogenic plant or fungus under the guidance and supervision of an individual providing the service," the very thing Barron of the Michigan Psychedelic Society is unable to provide her clients under the current law and a service that so many, like Lauren and Charlie (and my damn self) would be interested in pursuing.

Hollier says the most effective thing we can do is ask our legislators to support policies that "think the same." He says that one of the biggest questions we face as we work to dismantle the damage of the war on drugs is: Can we agree that entheogenic plants and fungi, including marijuana, have therapeutic value?

"If we can get more people doing something that's safer, or with safer options, where we can test and understand what microdosing looks like and do the research necessary to understand what is safe, then that's what we should be doing," he says. "I just wish that we were in a situation where we could be talking about legalization, not decriminalization."

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