WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - A D.C. mom is celebrating after her successful campaign to decriminalize magic mushrooms in her city.
As of Wednesday night, over 75 percent of D.C. voters approved Initiative 81.
Melissa Lavasani spearheaded the measure after she says psychedelic mushrooms saved her life. It was following the birth of her second child when she battled postpartum depression.
“My life kind of spiraled out of control and my depression turned severe,” said Lavasani. “I was experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, and it got to the point where I was suicidal and I felt like I had no purpose left in this life.”
She was hesitant to take anti-depressants and heard about another route on a podcast: magic mushrooms.
“I didn’t know anybody who sold mushrooms, I didn’t know anybody that had them, so we grew them in our house,” said Lavasani.
She says she took very small doses every few days and almost immediately felt a huge difference. But she also recognized the huge risk. Psychedelic mushrooms and plants are Schedule 1 drugs. As far as the federal government is concerned, they have no medical purpose.
“I was risking a lot. If anyone at school found out and a teacher had to report it, would my children get taken away from me? If anyone at my job found out, would I lose my job?” Lavasani said.
Lavasani, who works for D.C. government, wanted to make a change and found the support and funding to run a successful campaign. Fast forward to Nov 3, D.C. voters agreed with her efforts overwhelmingly. An important point about the language of the measure, this doesn’t make psychedelic plants legal. The initiative makes them among the lowest priority for D.C. police. That’s the farthest D.C. can push this since it’s not a state.
Mayor Muriel Bowser says she voted, ‘no.’
”We will look closely at the initiative and what that means,” Bowser said at a press conference Wednesday. “I don’t know that we have much enforcement around it anyway, so it may mean very little.”
But for Lavasani and others like her, this is important. Johns Hopkins Medicine has been studying psychedelics for years, and just this week, a new study showed the drugs helped patients with major depression. Researchers have also found they relieved anxiety in cancer patients. It’s information that’s helping change the image of a college party drug.
”We as a campaign have never promoted the substances being used recreationally,” Lavasani said. “Of course, we know people do it.”
D.C. Council does have the option to block the initiative, but a spokesperson for Council Chair Phil Mendelson said that’s not expected to happen.
Congress also has 30 days to review the change, but Lavasani is confident it will hold up because of the careful wording of the initiative.