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Amid COVID-19 Lockdown, Psychedelic Reform Campaigns Go Digital

Washington D.C. Council approved a bill to let Decriminalize Nature DC gather signatures remotely, while Decriminalize California petitions for an extension.

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Updated May 25, 2021

DoubleBlind Mag is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here. Editorially reviewed by Shelby Hartman.

With California’s campaign to decriminalize psilocybin now on hold—thanks to COVID-19 having made it impossible for activists to gather enough signatures before the deadline to qualify for the November ballot—members of Washington D.C.’s local Council are instead helping activists out. 

On Tuesday, Marijuana Moment reported that the Council unanimously approved emergency legislation that would allow ballot initiative campaigns to distribute their petitions electronically and therefore remotely gather signatures. Although voters would still have to physically sign printed sheets, they would be able to scan them and send them back to the campaign headquarters. The new legislation would also allow ballot petitioners to sign their own petitions (until this point, they instead have had to sign one controlled to a separate voter, which is made more difficult due to quarantine orders).

The legislation, initially proposed by Councilmember Charles Allen, may serve as a potential boon to the District’s local Decriminalize Nature campaign, enabling activists to continue their efforts to bring an initiative to the November ballot that would direct law enforcement to deprioritize cases related to naturally occurring psychedelics.

Decriminalize Nature DC is now aiming to gather around 25,000 signatures by the July 6 deadline for their initiative to qualify for the ballot. 

In the spirit of digital organizing, Decriminalize California, the campaign to end psilocybin prohibition throughout the state, recently launched an online petition to potentially resuscitate their own campaign, after having missed the original signature collection deadline.

The petition calls on Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature to either “allow all the petitions that have already received their title and summary from the state to be allowed on the November ballot without any more signature collections being required,” or to “give all the initiatives a 90 day extension from the April 21, 2020 deadline to July 20, 2020 and allow for digital petitions to be signed online using a system such as HelloSign to collect them.”

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The petition, initiated by Decriminalize California campaign director Ryan Munevar, is also backed by proponents of the Cannabis Hemp Heritage Act—which aims to fix many of the complications caused by 2016’s Prop 64 to legalize cannabis for adult use in the state—the California Initiative, Referendum and Recall Reform Act, the Jury Trials in Child-Custody and Dependent-Child Determinations Initiative Statute, and the CA Compassionate Intervention Act

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for support. If you’re looking for peer support during or after a psychedelic experience, contact Fireside Project by calling or texting 6-2FIRESIDE.
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