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Magic mushrooms decriminalized in DC thanks to mom who used them to fight postpartum depression

Melissa Lavasani had suffered from severe postpartum depression and considered taking her life when magic mushrooms helped save her life.

Magic mushrooms decriminalized in DC thanks to mom who used them to fight postpartum depression
Close-Up Of Fly Agaric Mushroom On Field - stock photo/Getty Images/Oliver Henze / EyeEm

Natural psychedelics including magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and mescaline have been decriminalized in Washington DC as of March 15. DC Initiative 81, which was passed last fall with considerable support, came into effect this Monday, reported Washingtonian. Natural psychedelics have been touted for their medicinal properties. The bill was put forward by Melissa Lavasani, who credits natural psychedelics for helping her overcome anxiety, severe depression, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation after the birth of her second child. The law also survived a 30-day Congressional review period and a threat by US Representative Andy Harris. He had stopped the district from fully legalizing cannabis by claiming it was a public-safety issue.


As per DC Initiative 81, enforcing laws related to the use of natural psychedelics would be the “lowest law enforcement priorities.” The bill also bans the use of city resources from being used to punish people for using, having, growing, or transferring small amounts of the shrooms as long as people involved are over 21. It also directs DC’s Attorney General and the US Attorney for DC to cease prosecution of people accused of drug offenses involving these substances. The use of natural psychedelics in public will be a civil infraction, similar to getting a traffic ticket. The laws would only apply within the city limits. 


Melissa Lavasani had turned to magic mushrooms as a last resort when postpartum depression wrapped its tentacles around her. "My life kind of spiraled out of control,” said Lavasani, organizer of Decriminalize Nature DC, reported NBC Washington. “I was severely depressed. It was very clear that I was at some point going to take my own life.” She developed sciatica and chronic pain, which even forced her to often crawl up the stairs at night to go to bed. She was hit with postpartum depression after delivering her second baby. She has considered antidepressants but knew it would be hard to get the right medication. She decided to try therapy but found it to be too expensive. “It just got to a point where it was very clear that if something didn’t change, I was going to take my life,” said Lavasani, according to Washingtonian.


That's when she heard about magic mushrooms as a potential lifesaver. ”I assumed people that took psychedelics were people that were trying to escape their reality, that couldn’t deal with adulthood,” said Lavasani, but she was willing to give it a go considering her rapidly deteriorating mental health. She was concerned about using illegal drugs but started to feel normal after microdosing for a few days. "It was like I was I turned out to be not only back to myself, but almost like a better version of myself,” she said.


Lavasani said the perception of drugs was a problem and decided to do something about it. “We think of somebody that’s using drugs as harming themselves, harming society,” she explained, before adding, "I was helping myself and I wasn’t harming anyone.” The campaign to decriminalize natural psychedelics, including magic mushrooms, was led by David Bronner, a top executive at Dr. Bronner’s soap company. He had funded the campaign to gather the necessary signatures to get it on the ballot last fall. Lavasani had managed to get over 75% of D.C. voters to approve initiative 81.


Given the sensitivity surrounding the legalization of entheogenic plants and fungi, the campaign cleverly tip-toed its way around wording the bill carefully and conservatively to ensure no one could be charged for use of transfer of small amounts of shrooms, except for use in public places. While it was still technically illegal, the city wouldn't be able to use its time or resources to enforce the laws. Lavasani’s Plant Medicine Coalition will also offer community grants to organizations that offer education, training, and other work with regards to the use of natural psychedelics, which have shown results in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and PTSD among other conditions. Last September, Johns Hopkins opened its Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.

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