- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Voters in the District, Maryland and Virginia are being asked to decide a number of ballot questions on Election Day.

In the District, residents can vote on whether to decriminalize psychedelic plants such as “magic mushrooms.”

If passed, Initiative 81 — known as the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020 — would amount to nonbinding call for the D.C. attorney general and the U.S. attorney to stop prosecutions for the “noncommercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, possessing, and/or” using of such plants.

Laws related to substances such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca and peyote also would become a low priority for D.C. police.

The federal government lists such plants as Schedule I drugs, which means they have no accepted medical use and an increased likelihood of abuse.



“Initiative 81 would help thousands of DC residents who currently fear arrest or prosecution for using natural plant medicines (entheogens) to overcome depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction,” says the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature D.C., which worked to get the initiative on the ballot.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that she would not vote for the initiative because it was “not an organically created initiative and I don’t typically favor those.”

D.C. voters in 2014 legalized marijuana, which remains a banned substance under federal law.

In Maryland, voters face questions regarding a constitutional amendment to the state budget and the expansion of sports gambling.

Ballot Question 1 asks voters if they want the General Assembly to be allowed to increase, decrease or add items to the budget as long as the changes do not exceed the governor’s proposal. Lawmakers currently are permitted only to make cuts.

If passed, the law would go into effect in fiscal 2024.

Gov. Larry Hogan said in a press release that he opposes the legislation because the “state is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis, [and] the last thing we should do is make it easier to recklessly spend more of your tax dollars.”

House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, both Democrats, said the proposal would “ensure that a co-equal branch of government is truly co-equal.”

Ballot Question 2 asks voters to decide in a referendum if they approve authorizing sports and event betting “for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.” If 60% of voters favor the referendum, it will get the green light to be considered during the General Assembly’s next legislative session.

Mr. Hogan, a Republican, has expressed support for the measure, calling it “a critical revenue source for public education without raising taxes on families and businesses.”

Delegate William Wivell, Washington Democrat, has criticized the proposal, telling USA Today that the revenue generated would not “bail” the state legislature out of its “spending problem.”

In Virginia, voters are being asked to determine the outcome for constitutional amendments on redistricting and state and local taxes on veterans.

The first amendment question asks if a redistricting commission composed of state lawmakers and residents should be created to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The bipartisan Virginia Commonwealth Caucus said in an op-ed in The Washington Post that the commission would be “the clearest, fairest and least political mechanism for drawing fair districts” in state history.

Delegate Mark Levine, Arlington Democrat, told The Post that “it could lock in partisan gerrymandering forever.”

But Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he supports the proposal.

The other amendment question asks if veterans who are completely disabled from service-related injuries should be exempt from property taxes for the motor vehicle they own and use.

The tax cut is supported by at least six state Democratic lawmakers, and has not received much criticism.

In a related matter, a judge in Virginia ruled Wednesday that the state cannot count ballots that arrive after Election Day and do not contain a postmark.

Frederick County Circuit Judge William W. Eldridge IV said the state can accept ballots with illegible postmarks for up to three days as long as the voter’s oath was signed and dated before the election.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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