Psychedelic Decriminalization: Pathways to Responsible Risk Management
Featuring Kevin Matthews, Melissa Lavasani, & Benjamin De Leonen, M.A., moderated by Dawn D. Davis
As psychedelic drug policy continues to shift through new approaches to decriminalization at local and state levels within the United States, ensuring accessibility in ethical contexts is becoming increasingly important. In this webinar session, we will review international approaches to drug policy, discussing how the successful implementation of psychedelic decriminalization requires sufficient collaboration and coordination with local communities, law enforcement, and medical personnel.
Melissa proposed DC’s Initiative 81, “The Plant and Fungus policy Act of 2020,” after entheogenic plants and fungi helped her overcome severe postpartum depression. She is currently the Chairwoman of the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC, the campaign supporting the passage of Initiative 81.
After psilocybin and ayahuasca helped her reclaim her life, Melissa was motivated to change laws in the District of Columbia so that other residents would not face the same fear of investigation, arrest or prosecution for using entheogens that she did. Born to Iranian immigrants in Washington DC, Melissa currently lives in Ward 6 with her husband and two children and is a DC government employee.
After successfully leading the effort to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver, CO in May 2019, Kevin realized that a national advocacy group needed to exist to transform public opinion about psilocybin and other psychedelics. He founded SPORE – the Society for Psychedelic Outreach, Reform, and Education – and is also the President of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel. He believes that everyone deserves safe access to psychedelics in order to transform their lives and communities, and he is committed to educating the public, organizing community, and fostering leadership in the psychedelic ecosystem.
Benjamin De Loenen, M.A., studied audiovisual media and communications in The Netherlands, where he graduated with honors from his Masters with his documentary “Ibogaine-Rite of Passage” (2004), a film that remains an important reference on this subject matter. Since this achievement, Benjamin has been dedicated to making ayahuasca, iboga and other plant practices valued and integrated parts of society. In 2009, he founded the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service (ICEERS), a charitable non-profit organisation with United Nations consultative status, where he serves as Executive Director. Benjamin is the author of several publications and films, has presented at conferences around the world, and has participated in various leadership roles, including as a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Ibogaine Therapist Alliance (2012 – 2014).
Dawn D. Davis is a mother, a wife, and a PhD student at the University of Idaho in the Natural Resources program. Her current research uses GIS as one tool to analyze the environmental and anthropogenic issues that surround the revered peyote (Lophophora williamsii) plant, which is integral to her spiritual practice as a Shoshone-Bannock Tribal woman. She is a twice awarded National Science Foundation recipient as a fellow under the Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship and as an Indigenous Science Technology Engineering and Math scholar. Dawn has shared her research among Native American, academic, ethnobotanical, and psychedelic audiences nationally and internationally. Dawn is also Co-Editor for the Journal of Native Sciences and a Founding Director with Source Research Foundation.