City leaders in Ferndale, Michigan voted this week to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and other natural psychedelics, making the city in the Detroit metropolitan area the fourth municipality in the state to reform laws prohibiting the promising drugs. The Ferndale City Council voted unanimously on February 27 to approve a resolution decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi including psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), all of which are psychedelics that show promise as treatments for a variety of mental health conditions.
The resolution passed by the city council does not legalize psychedelic drugs outright. Instead, the measure directs that the “investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority for the City of Ferndale,” according to the text of the resolution.
The city council resolution was sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kat Bruner James. The measure was supported by Decriminalize Nature, a national organization working to reform psychedelics policies from coast to coast, and the Ferndale chapter of the activist group.
“The Ferndale community continues to demonstrate mindfulness and integrity as we move towards collective well-being and community healing in allyship with nature and her medicines,” Decriminalize Nature Ferndale wrote in a social media post after the city council passed the resolution. “We are grateful for all the community support and to Ferndale City Council for passing the resolution to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi.”
Psychedelics As Plant Medicines
The two-page resolution includes findings from the city council recognizing that natural psychedelics have been used as plant medicines by humankind for thousands of years. The measure also notes that research has shown that the use of psychedelics can be beneficial to the health and well-being of communities and individuals.
“The use of Entheogenic Plants, which can catalyze profound experiences of personal and spiritual growth, have been shown by scientific and clinical studies and traditional practices to be beneficial to the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” the resolution reads.
After Monday’s vote, psychologist Billy Horton, the co-chair of Decriminalize Nature Ferndale, thanked the city council for the members’ unanimous support of the psychedelics decriminalization ordinance. The activist added that the group would continue to educate the public on the safe use of plant medicines.
“I just want to continue to emphasize the importance of psychedelic and entheogenic plants and the work that’s going on, the research and the science that’s supporting it for psychological and for physical wellness,” he told the council in a statement quoted by the Detroit Metro Times.
Ongoing research has shown that psilocybin has the potential to be an effective treatment for several serious mental health conditions, including PTSD, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and substance misuse disorders.
A study published in 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a quick-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. And separate research published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.
This week’s approval of the psychedelics decriminalization measure in Ferndale marks the fourth time a Michigan city has decriminalized natural psychedelic drugs. Ann Arbor became the third city nationwide to decriminalize psychedelics with the city council’s adoption of a resolution in September 2020. That was followed by a similar move in Detroit in November 2021, while Hazel Park approved a measure last year. After Monday’s vote in Ferndale, the national headquarters of Decrimalize Nature took to social media to mark the occasion.
“Congrats again to the @decrimferndale team for all of their hard work and effort to pass the resolution in support of entheogenic plant practices in Ferndale Michigan last night,” the group wrote on Instagram. “That’s 4 wins in Michigan so far! Let’s get some statewide decriminalization legislation on the table!!! Go team Nature!”