WASHINGTON — The decriminalization of marijuana in the District has given hope to a small group of activists called “Decriminalize Nature D.C," whose main goal is to reduce penalties on the use, possession, and cultivation of mushrooms and other psychedelic plants.
They're beginning their campaign by proposing a ballot initiative that would make pursuing and prosecuting residents for having psilocybin-heavy plants and fungi "the lowest law enforcement priority for the District of Columbia."
Look, I'm as progressive as they come on many of these issues -- especially in regard to natural plants and their derivatives that are scientifically proven to have medicinal and pain-relieving values.
But here's the thing: the science on LSD (aka magic mushrooms) is still in its infancy since it was first banned under the Nixon administration. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have helped many people with psilocybin, using a guide to take patients through their hallucinogenic journeys that often lead to less angst about their affliction.
They have also reported some patients experiencing terrifying episodes, something back in the day they used to call a "bad acid trip."
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I speak from experience because the use of LSD helped splinter my own family in the late 1960s. Like any drug, it's not for everyone and its origins are not always from pharmaceutical laboratories. And, let's be honest, not everyone has the income or insurance to ensure they have trained guides when they take the drug.
I am not saying it should never happen. But until clear and definitive research is done to reduce the risk of traumatic episodes that permanently alter someone's brain and psyche, this ballot initiative should wait to be passed another day.
I know that doesn't make the group who met at an Adams Morgan pizzeria called -- what else? -- the Mellow Mushroom -- last Wednesday happy.
But it's the right thing to do until we know more.
I'm Mike Wise.