Let's Decriminalize Burlington

Your action here will end needless drug arrests of marginalized people & help thousands of suffering people discover the benefits of plant medicine!

The UVM Science of Psychedelics Club, University of Vermont Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Bay Staters for Natural Medicine & its coalition have successfully passed decriminalization resolutions in Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, making national news and opening the door to resolutions in nearly a dozen communities across the North East. Our measure for Burlington will order the police department to cease arrests for possession of all controlled substances and allow residents to grow and exchange psychedelic plants.

A Revolution in Mental Health and Addiction

A meta-analysis from two decades of clinical trials found these plants to have substantial effects for treating depression and PTSD (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32529966/). And a 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that psilocybin therapy puts major depression in remission for one in two sufferers. Clinical trials have shown plant medicines like ayahuasca and ibogaine to be some of the most effective treatments for alcoholism and opioid addiction.

Thousands of Possession Arrests Each Year: Almost a 2:1 Disparity for Black and Brown People

As reported by Dig Boston covering our work:

Black people represent 56% of Boston’s drug-related arrests [likely very similar for Burlington VT] despite making up around a quarter of the city’s population. They also represent 48% of possession arrests. (One stakeholder who analyzed the city’s numbers noted, “The way this data is reported in the public records request understates the number of drug possession arrests because it only lists the main offense for which a person was apprehended—like trespassing.”)

Make no mistake: these arrests are destroying lives. Tearing apart families of people struggling with addiction, losing them their jobs, and traumatizing them further by giving them records and jail sentences. With Oregon's organizers and the Middlesex County DA endorsing our work, there's no reason we can't end these arrests now.

Evidence that Demands Action

* Opioid Overdoses: In the month of May alone, nearly 170 of our friends, family members, and neighbors in Massachusetts lost their lives to opioid overdoses. A 2017 study of 44,000 Americans found that psychedelic use is associated with a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse.

* Depression and Trauma: Massachusetts millennials have the highest rates of depression for their age group in the United States, and nearly one in five residents regardless of age suffer from depression. Naturally occurring plants and fungi, like psilocybin mushrooms, have been designated "breakthrough therapies" by the FDA for their substantial benefits in major depressive disorder.

A November 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found one in two patients put their major depression in remission after only two psilocybin therapy sessions, making it four times more effective than standard depression medications. A 2020 meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials dating back almost two decades found that psychedelic-assisted therapy is substantially effective in treating PTSD, depression, anxiety linked to terminal illness, and social anxiety linked to autism. Other studies confirm this result, finding that entheogens substantially reduce psychological distress and suicidal planning and ideation.

* Smoking: Smoking kills one in five of our friends, family members, and neighbors in Massachusetts. Apart from premature deaths and quality of life implications, smoking also cost our state hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid expenses every year. A 2017 study by Johns Hopkins medical faculty found that smoking patients achieved an 80% abstinence rate over six months with psilocybin mushroom assisted therapy—a 45% higher success rate than the most effective smoking cessation drug. Similarly, research suggests potential benefits for treating alcoholism.

* Cluster Headaches: Some Massachusetts residents suffer from cluster headaches, an extremely debilitating condition. A study by the American Academy of Neurology interviewed patients who tried psilocybin in the absence of any known cure. Five in seven reported psilocybin ended the headaches and one in two reported a complete termination of the ailment.

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