Dear Commissioner Senita Lenear,
My name is Steve Alsum, the executive director of The Grand Rapids Red Project, our office is located in the third ward in Grand Rapids. I’m writing today in support of efforts to lift restrictions on psilocybin mushrooms and other naturally entheogenic plants. Seven cities across the country (including Ann Arbor), plus Washtenaw County and the State of Oregon have all enacted some form of policy to decriminalize these substances. Over 100 other cities across the US, including several in Michigan, seek to do the same, while legislation is being pursued in at least seven states to lift penalties associated with these substances.
According to studies from Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, ICAHN School of Medicine in Manhattan, Imperial College London, and others, these plants and fungi have been effective in addressing PTSD, addiction, and other mental health-related issues. PTSD leads to over 22 suicides a day by veterans of war. We must continue to care for those that have paid a high price to protect our freedom. With opiate-related overdose on the rise, new solutions are needed including harm reduction and the steady availability of supplies and Naloxone to all neighborhoods in Grand Rapids.
Psilocybin Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, Iboga, mescaline-containing cacti and other naturally occurring entheogenic substances have a history of use that dates back thousands of years and are a large part of ancestral practices. They are non-addictive and any habit that is formed tends towards positive habits such as meditation, exercise, quitting smoking, getting sober, and other beneficial practices. Especially in these times of covid our communities deserve access to these plants.
With the inevitable medicalization and commoditization of these substances and the growing interest of big pharma, it is important now to protect access for every American. Here in Grand Rapids, Decriminalize Nature looks to do just that.
As your constituent, should any Decriminalize resolution be introduced, I hope you will listen to the overwhelming evidence and support or sponsor any effort to decriminalize these plants. Quite simply, this is a matter of cognitive liberty. These plants and fungi could help Grand Rapidians in a big way. I look forward to hearing back from you on this important issue.
Steve Alsum, Executive Director
The Grand Rapids Red Project
401 Hall St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507