“Initiative 81” Posters Torn Down on Massachusetts Avenue

Ballot Initiative Seeks to Decriminalize Entheogens

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Valerie Jablow photographed the signs that she found torn down on her Massachusetts Avenue walk Oct. 13. Courtesy: V. Jablow

An individual was observed tearing down Initiative 81 posters around the Massachusetts Avenue NE area last Tuesday, Oct. 13. District resident Valerie Jablow reported seeing a cyclist rip down two signs and then take off on a bike in the early evening. When Jablow took her dog back out for an evening walk later that day, she noticed more initiative signs in the trash.

“I walked with my dog onto Massachusetts Ave. NE and noticed several more initiative 81 signs in trash cans along the street,” Jablow wrote. “Apparently, after I saw him, the biker headed east along Massachusetts Avenue tearing down the signs.”

Jablow also noticed that “there were no initiative 81 signs for at least a mile” on Massachusetts Avenue which she thought was “unusual” as we are less than two weeks away from the Nov. 3rd General Election. Initiative 81 is on the ballot.

Initiative 81 seeks to make entheogens, a type of psychedelic drugs such as mushrooms used to treat several types of mental illness including depression, among the lowest law enforcement priorities for the DC police. It also puts public call upon the DC Attorney General and US Attorney for DC to cease prosecution of criminal charges involving entheogens. The initiative does not legalize or reduce penalties for entheogens nor does it change the legal status of entheogens or alter existing penalties.

Melissa Lavasani is the original proposer of Initiative 81 and told Hill Rag in an email that the community support in the wake of these actions has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Initiative 81 and the Decriminalize Nature DC campaign to decriminalize plant medicines received numerous calls yesterday about our signs being pulled down from public space,” Lavasani wrote. “The good news is we have eyes on the street and strong support in the community. If anything, this action has motivated our supporters to get more involved between now and election day.”

Lavasani encouraged residents to join the movement and sign up to get involved on their website www.decrimnaturedc.org and to vote ‘yes’ on Initiative 81 which will be on the back of the DC general election ballot this Nov.

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected]