Hazel Park on Tuesday became the third city in the state to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychedelic, or entheogenic, plants.
City Council members unanimously approved the measure.
The move means that those who possess and engage in planting and other involvement with entheogenic plants are now the lowest law enforcement priority in Hazel Park.
Similar measures have been passed in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and Detroit in the last couple of years. Nationally, Hazel Park is the 14th city to decriminalize entheogenic plants.
Last year, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study on how psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, can benefit those dealing with depression. The study, however, noted that “direct comparisons between psilocybin and established treatments for depression are lacking” at this point.
There has been increasing research and interest in using psilocybin in psychedelic medicine. The New York Times reported in January that the bulk of available research suggests such substances hold promise as part of larger treatment plans.
City Councilman Luke Londo led the effort among council members to decriminalize entheogenic plants in Hazel Park.
“This is the new frontier” in natural medicine, Londo said. “It seems like only yesterday the discussion was on marijuana and whether it had a legitimate medical and therapeutic effect.”
Like marijuana, entheogenic plants have been decriminalized recently but remain illegal under federal law.
Londo said he suffers from depression and anxiety and has used entheogenic plants containing psilocybin.
“It allows me to check in with myself without the presence of anxiety or ego and take an honest accounting of my well-being,” said Londo, who has used the plants a couple of times a year since 2008. “It’s been wonderful for me and I know my experience is not unique.”
Hazel Park’s resolution decriminalizes psilocybin and all plants, fungi, and natural materials used in spiritual practices or to benefit overall wellness.
The resolution is similar to measures passed in Ann Arbor as well as Oakland, Calif. that were provided by Decriminalize Nature, a national organization whose mission is to improve human health and well-being by decriminalizing and expanding access to entheogenic plants and fungi through political and community organizing, education and advocacy, Londo said in a statement.
The organization has a Michigan-based affiliate, Decriminalize Nature Michigan, which was instrumental in Detroit voters approving decriminalization last year with 61 percent support.
City Manager Ed Klobucher said the recently decriminalized plants have not been a focus of city law enforcement.
“It’s always been a low priority,” he said. “No one is interested in people with small amounts for micro-dosing to address a medical condition.”
Members with Decriminalize Nature Hazel Park, a local chapter, have advocated for the city’s new resolution. They were joined at Tuesday’s council meeting by Julie Barron, a registered psychotherapist and co-director of Decriminalize Nature Michigan.
Barron reportedly has done research and training over the past 25 years on the health benefits and use of marijuana and entheogenic plants.
Shan Vicius, who heads the local chapter in Hazel Park, was grateful to the City Council’s decriminalization resolution.
“People like me who use entheogenic plants are your friends, your clients, your family and your neighbors,” Vicius told council members. “We deserve the ability to use these natural medicines that significantly improve our wellness and our lives.”
Hazel Park’s resolution also calls on Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney Karen MacDonald to cease prosecuting people involved in use of entheogenic plants.
Around the time that Ann Arbor decriminalized the psychedelic plants in 2020, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit stated he didn’t plan to prosecute the use or possession of entheogenic plants in the county.