Magic Mushrooms: Decriminalization a Hit with Detroit Voters

Cedric Jones Last Updated: June 07, 2022 Print

The turnout may have been dismal — only 93,692 of 502,067 registered voters — but the victory was decisive, 61.08% to 38.9%, making Detroit the second Michigan city, at the time, following Ann Arbor in September 2020, to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi. Hazel Park has since joined the fold.

The Detroit ballot proposal, Proposal E, makes the personal possession, medical, and religious use of entheogenic plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority. In this article, we will discuss the particulars of the proposition.  

We will also discuss the ramifications of Proposal E and the future of statewide decriminalization of entheogenic plants in Michigan.

What’s In The Proposal?

Proposal E reads: “Shall the voters of the City of Detroit adopt an ordinance to the 2019 Detroit City Code that would decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.” The answer was a resounding “yes” from participating voters.

This resounding “yes” came from only a fraction — 18% — of voters eligible to vote in the election. However, to backers of the proposal, a win is a win. The low turnout was not attributed to the proposal to decriminalize entheogenic plants. Detroit has struggled with voter apathy for decades. Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan was also on the ballot. He was re-elected to a third term. 

Entheogenic Plants Covered by the Proposal

Entheogens refer to culturally-important organisms found all over the world that contain naturally-occurring psychedelic compounds. The plants (and fungi) have been used by native and indigenous cultures for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes for centuries. 

Entheogens covered by the proposal include:

1. Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin & Psilocin)

According to Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.,  a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, “The most promising potential (for psilocybin) is for addiction — smoking, alcoholism, cocaine.” 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted psilocybin “breakthrough therapy status” for its potential to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). The FDA defines breakthrough therapy as a level of legalization that allows researchers to expedite the development of a drug after preliminary evidence shows the drug “may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy.”

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is documented to be beneficial in treating: 

2. Iboga

Research and studies show that ibogaine, a compound derived from a shrub in central west Africa, can be effective in treating alcohol and drug addiction. It also may help reduce withdrawal symptoms, ease cravings, and lower the risk of relapse. 

Other potential medical uses include:

  • Fevers
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Migraine headaches
  • Eating disorders

3. Ayahuasca 

Ayahuasca is a concentrated liquid usually made by prolonged heating or boiling of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub. However, it can be made with any plant containing DMT brewed, with one having MAO inhibiting abilities.

There can be a variety of other plants included in the brew for different traditional, religious and medical purposes. 

Potential medical uses for ayahuasca include treatment for: 

  • Cocaine addiction
  • Alcoholism
  • Opioid use disorders.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders

4. San Pedro & Peyote (Mescaline)

Mescaline, a naturally-occurring psychedelic compound found in a variety of cacti — including the Peyote cactus — was originally on the list. 

However, due to pushback from indigenous and native cultures, the city council voted at a meeting in September 2021 to remove peyote and other mescaline-containing cacti from the resolution. 

One of the reasons for this is that peyote is already available to certain indigenous groups for religious use, and it’s thought that decriminalizing these sacred and at-risk cacti would lead to further removal of the plants from their natural habitats. 

Proposal E only applies to entheogenic plants. Synthetic psychedelics such as LSD, MDMA, bath salts, and other man-made alternatives to naturally-occurring psychedelic compounds are not included.

Decriminalization vs. Legalization

Decriminalization is not legalization. Psilocybin and entheogenic plants listed as Schedule 1 Controlled Substances under Michigan and federal law are illegal to possess or use and could result in a federal drug charge. Proposal E does not change their legal status. 

What Proposal E does is relegate the possession and use of entheogenic plants to the lowest law enforcement and prosecution priority in the city. The Detroit Police Department has been instructed to cease investigations and prosecutions of individuals who possess and use them. The proposal does not decriminalize the sale of entheogenic plants in the city.

Decriminalization: Early Progress Report

Compared to other drugs such as opioids, heroin, cocaine, etc., psychedelics are considered relatively safe and non-habit forming. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, psilocybin mushrooms are considered “one of the least toxic drugs known.” 

However, the main argument of opponents of the effort to decriminalize psychedelics is that fewer penalties will lead to more drug use, more crime, and a financial burden on the city.

But according to statistics from Denver, which in 2019 was the first city to decriminalize psychedelics, these fears may well be unfounded. Data from the Denver District Attorney’s office shows that they have processed only 47 cases related to psychedelic mushrooms since they were decriminalized. 

Also, according to the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, “decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms in Denver has not since presented any significant public health or safety risk in the city.” The panel has recommended further easing of laws governing psychedelic mushrooms, researching psilocybin for possible use in mental health therapy, and training Denver’s first responders to better react to a psychedelic crisis.

Where Can I Buy Magic Mushrooms in Detroit?

Magic mushrooms are not for sale in Detroit. Psilocybin, the psychoactive agent in magic mushrooms, is on the federal Schedule 1 Controlled Substance list, which makes it illegal for sale anywhere in the United States. 

Cities and states have the autonomy to decriminalize magic mushrooms, but that does not affect their federal legal status. So far, Oregon is the only state where magic mushrooms have been legalized for therapeutic use. 

However, since magic mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin, they are available for sale in Michigan.

Growing Your Own Magic Mushrooms

It’s surprisingly easy to grow magic mushrooms at home — providing you (and your friends) with a steady supply of now decriminalized psychedelics. Here are some of the ways people are growing shrooms at home. 

Magic Mushroom Grow Kits

The mushroom grow kit is the simplest way to grow your own magic mushrooms. It comes with everything you need to grow your own mushrooms, plus detailed instructions.

The basic kits start at around $50. More sophisticated kits can cost as much as $400. It takes about 4-6 weeks, depending on the species of mushrooms, for a mushroom grow kit to produce magic mushrooms.

There are some significant advantages to using a mushroom grow kit. Most notably:

  1. Low maintenance — Just add the spores, place the kit in a well-lit area away from direct sunlight, and mist with water 1-2 times daily.
  2. Safe — Mushrooms grown from a kit purchased from a reputable dealer are inherently safer than picking them in the wild. Many mushrooms growing in the wild are deadly.
  3. Cost-effective — One-eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams) of magic mushrooms is considered an “average” dose. Depending on supply and demand, it can cost $20-$40. A magic mushroom spore syringe or print can yield up to 50 grams or more of magic mushrooms. This makes for a considerable return on your investment in the kit and spores.

Mushroom kits, however, do have some drawbacks:

  1. Limited Production — If you follow the instructions carefully, a mushroom kit will produce several harvests. However, growing them from scratch will produce considerably more.
  2. Poor quality — If you don’t purchase your mushroom kit from a quality vendor, you could end up with one that does not grow your spores for a variety of reasons.
  3. Old mycelium — Mycelium is the living organism that will produce mushrooms. Make sure you purchase a quality kit manufactured recently to ensure that the mycelium is still alive.

Mushroom grow kits are also susceptible to molds and fungi that can destroy or contaminate the mushrooms. Purchasing your kit from a reputable vendor will reduce the possibility of contamination. 

Growing Magic Mushrooms From Scratch

Many of the things you need to grow magic mushrooms at home from scratch can be found around the house. However, you will still need to invest at least $200 in the project.

The process of growing magic mushrooms from scratch is easy, but it is not simple. You must follow detailed instructions from a reliable source to ensure a successful operation. 

There are five basic steps to growing magic mushrooms from scratch:

  • Step 1: Preparing the Substrate — The substrate is the material that the mycelium, which produces the mushrooms, feeds on. It can be made from a variety of substances but usually consists of vermiculite or sawdust, water, and brown rice flour.
  • Step 2: Inoculation — In this step, the spores from the spore syringe or spore print are applied to the substrate.
  • Step 3: Incubation — An incubator is not absolutely necessary for this step. Any warm area of the house where the temperature is consistent will suffice. However, an incubator expedites growth and increases yield. One can be built from materials around the house for about a $30 investment in materials or purchased starting at around $40.
  • Step 4: Fruiting — This step involves creating the ideal environment — temperature, humidity, light, etc. — for the mycelium to produce mushrooms.
  • Step 5: Harvesting and Drying — A dehydrator can be used on the lowest setting, but it is best to allow them a few days to dry naturally.

When growing magic mushrooms from scratch at home, it will take about four to eight weeks from preparation to harvest. The biggest advantage to growing them from scratch is you have complete control over the quality of the product. There’s a lot of information online about how to grow mushrooms from scratch. Not all of it can be trusted. For your safety, make sure your instructions come from a reliable source.

View of downtown Detroit riverfront in Michigan USA

Next Stop: Decriminalization State-Wide

Now that Detroit has joined the growing list of cities that has decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi, Michigan State Senator Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) says he hopes the state legislature “will quickly adopt the legislation we have to decriminalize these natural psychedelics.”

In September 2021, Hollier and fellow state senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)  introduced a bill to decriminalize the manufacture, possession, delivery and use of entheogenic plants and fungi statewide. The bill also allows for the usage of entheogenic plants and fungi for research. Commercial production and sale would still be prohibited. It is now waiting in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

In February, the Michigan Board of Canvassers approved a ballot initiative that asks Michigan voters to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi. The “Michigan Decriminalization of Psilocybin Mushrooms and Other Plants and Fungi Initiative” seeks to have Michigan open up its laws to allow for the use of naturally occurring psychedelics.