initiative 81

DC Woman Who Led Initiative 81 Effort Used Magic Mushrooms for Postpartum Depression

D.C. voters appear to have chosen to loosen restrictions related to psychedelic plants

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What to Know

  • Melissa Lavasani says the mushrooms helped her feel better.
  • The initiative calls for police to treat the use of psychedelic plants as one of “their lowest enforcement priorities.”
  • Using or selling the plants is still a crime.

A D.C. woman who led the effort to pass an initiative to loosen restrictions on psychedelic plants says she turned to magic mushrooms as a last resort in her battle with postpartum depression.

“My life kind of spiraled out of control,” said Melissa Lavasani, organizer of Decriminalize Nature DC. “I was severely depressed. It was very clear that I was at some point going to take my own life.”

Lavasani says the mushrooms helped her feel better, but she worried she would get arrested since psychedelics are illegal in D.C.

“We think of somebody that’s using drugs as harming themselves, harming society,” she said. “I was helping myself and I wasn’t harming anyone.”

That’s why she says she wanted to create change. 

She started the campaign for Initiative 81 to loosen restrictions. The initiative calls for police to treat the use of psychedelic plants as one of “their lowest enforcement priorities.” Using or selling the plants would still technically be a crime.

The initiative appears likely to pass, with 76% of voters saying yes.

“It makes me really proud that D.C. voters heard our message and they know what this is about and they’re very supportive of this,” Lavasani said.

Last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she would vote against it. On Wednesday she said she accepts the outcome.

“We’ll look closely at the initiative and what that means,” she said. “I don’t know that we have much enforcement around it anyway, so it may mean very little.”

The D.C. Council has the option to overturn the initiative. If it passes, it goes to Congress for review.

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