In Michigan, Ann Arbor City Council members named September “Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month” on August 16.
Councilmembers Jeff Hayner and Kathy Griswold were two of the individuals who sponsored the effort. In a digital city council meeting, Councilmember Jeff Hayner explained the reasoning regarding why September is the month that was chosen. “With the assistance of our local advocates, we decided that September because September is when we passed our resolution effectively decriminalizing these plants, that September should be our local month, and that’s basically what this entails.”
The resolution text mentions that entheogenic plants could possibly help treat “substance abuse, addiction, recidivism, trauma, post-traumatic stress symptoms, chronic depression, severe anxiety, end-of-life anxiety, grief, cluster headaches and other debilitating conditions are present in our community,” thanks to clinical studies that have determined its effectiveness as a treatment for some conditions, as well as “personal spiritual growth.”
It also briefly describes the progress that have been made with substances like psilocybin, ibogaine and ayahuasca. “The FDA has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to Psilocybin for use in major depressive disorders; Psilocybin has been shown to ease treatment resistant depression, end-of-life anxiety, and cluster headaches, Ibogaine has been shown to be an effective treatment for opiate addiction, and Ayahuasca studies are currently underway to better understand its ability to address depression, and substance dependence…”
“I think it’s kind of exciting that we’re exploring these new boundaries, that we’re looking at alternatives to mental health solutions, improvements to mental health solutions and so on, and this is a part of it,” Hayner said toward the end of his proposal. “So I would appreciate your support on this…” All councilmembers present were in favor of approving the motion, with none opposed.
Ann Arbor Makes History
The local organization that Hayner mentioned is Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor (often referred to as DNA2), which strives to decriminalize entheogenic plants in Ann Arbor “while restoring our connection to nature and improving human health, hope, and well-being.”
The group posted on Facebook it’s excitement for the new themed month to revolve around entheogenic plant education. “We are so pleased with Ann Arbor City Council’s vote to declare September Entheogenic Plant and Fungi awareness month. It shows their continued support of this local movement. September is gearing up to be a wonderful month here in Ann Arbor and throughout the whole state of Michigan.”
DNA2 plans to hold its inaugural EntheoFest 2021 on September 19 at the University of Michigan at “the Diag” (a prominent meeting spot for many cannabis events, such as Ann Arbor Hash Bash) between 11:11am-2:22pm. The free event will last for three hours and will bring numerous speakers, live music and educational booths. The festival is set to occur nearly one year after the city of Ann Arbor voted to decriminalize entheogenic plants on September 21, 2020 in a unanimous vote.
DNA2 also plans to introduce a bill called “Decriminalize Nature Michigan” to the Senate this fall as well, with the intent to “effectively remove penalties for personal and communal use of Entheogens (defined as and naturally occurring plants, phenethylamines, or indole amines; and/or any preparation or mixture thereof).”
The decriminalization of psychedelic substances in Ann Arbor is one of many successful attempts to bring attention to the unique properties of entheogenic plants. Denver, Colorado was the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin in May 2019, followed by Oakland, California which decriminalized psychedelics in June 2019. Oregon became the first state to legalize medical psilocybin on November 5, 2020. These are but a few examples of the nationwide effort to improve access to entheogenic plants with medicinal properties.