A Massachusetts campaign to put psychedelics legalization on the 2024 ballot has decided to pursue a version of the initiative that would allow for home cultivation.
About a month after the state attorney general’s office cleared two versions of the proposal from Massachusetts for Mental Health Options, the campaign says it’s made a decision to go with the slightly more expansive iteration.
The only difference between Version A and Version B is that the former would let adults grow their own entheogenic plants and fungi. They’re otherwise identical. The choice to go with Version A was partly informed by internal polling that the campaign, supported by the national New Approach PAC, financed, as Psychedelic Week first reported.
“Our goal is to pass the most expansive policies that create as safe access to psychedelics as possible—that is viable and that voters will approve,” Jared Moffat, a spokesperson for New Approach, told Marijuana Moment on Tuesday. “We had lots of conversations with local coalition partners, and I think all of us agreed that the best policy would be to have more expansive protections for home cultivation.”
An initial poll that the campaign funded came back with worrisome results, Moffat said during a coalition Zoom call last week. It showed support starting below 50 percent, though respondents’ views warmed up somewhat after they were given additional information about the reform’s intent and effects.
The campaign then did another round of polling with expanded explanations of the proposed reforms, and Moffat said that highlighting the “rationale behind these initiatives” led to “much, much stronger” support that indicated “it is possible to win with both of these initiatives.”
Moffat told Marijuana Moment that polling home cultivation as a standalone policy did reveal that the campaign will need to prioritize eduction on that issue, as some voters had difficulties “wrapping their head around” the concept.
“If you single it out and focus attention on it, there’s an effect there,” he said. But with comprehensive explanations of both versions of the full initiative, the campaign “didn’t see a lot of difference” in the poll results.
“That’s great news because it means that we can go with a more expansive policy, and as long as we do our job in explaining what the ballot initiative is all about and what it does and we’re clear in our communication, then we have a good shot of passing.”
The measure that they will now focus on in signature gathering would create a regulatory framework for lawful and supervised access to psychedelics at licensed facilities. It would also legalize the possession and gifting of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca, but it would not otherwise provide for commercial retail sales of the substances.
Here are the key details of the Natural Psychedelic Substances Act:
Adults 21 and older could legally possess, grow and share certain amounts of psychedelics.
The covered psychedelics and possession limits are: DMT (one gram), non-peyote mescaline (18 grams), ibogaine (30 grams), psilocybin (one gram) and psilocin (one gram). Those weight limits do not include any material that the active substances are attached to or part of.
The penalty for possession of amounts of up to double the limit would be a $100 civil fine, with amounts above that remaining criminalized.
A Natural Psychedelic Substances Commission would be created to oversee the implementation of the law and licensing of service centers and facilitators.
The body, which is modeled on the state’s existing Cannabis Control Commission, would be required to enact rules for regulated access of at least one psychedelic by April 1, 2026. Regulations for the rest of the substances would need to be created by April 1, 2028. It would also need to start accepting applications by September 30, 2026.
A Natural Psychedelic Substances Advisory Board would “study and make recommendations” to the commission about issues such as public health, regulations, training for facilitators, affordable and equitable access, traditional use of psychedelics and future rules, including possible additions to the list of legal substances.
Psychedelics purchased at licensed facilities would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax, and localities would have the option of imposing an additional two percent tax if they permit the centers to operate in their area. Revenue would be used to fund regulation of the program.
There are no provisions on expunging prior convictions for activities that would be made legal.
Local governments could enact regulations on the time, location and manner of service centers, but they could not outright ban them from operating in their area.
Adults could propagate psychedelics in a maximum 12X12 ft. space.
There would be civil legal protections related to professional licensure, child custody and public benefits for people who participate in a legalized psychedelic activity.
The effective date of the law would be December 15, 2024. The commission and advisory board would need to be created by March 1, 2025.
“We want to make sure that folks understand the real case for this policy. One is that we’re facing a mental health crisis, and there aren’t a lot of existing tools that folks have that are effective,” Moffat said. “So making these psychedelics available is giving folks another option to improve their mental wellbeing. That’s the key motivation.”
—Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.—
In order to qualify for ballot placement, activists will first need to collect an initial batch of 74,574 valid signatures from registered voters and turn them into the secretary of state’s office by the first Wednesday of December.
At that point, the measure would be set to the legislature, which could choose to enact them, propose a substitute or decline to act. If lawmakers decide not to pursue the reform by the first Wednesday of May 2024, activists would then have until the first Wednesday of July to submit at least 12,429 additional valid signatures.
The initiative with a home grow option has been endorsed by Bay Staters for Natural Medicine (BSNM), an organization that has spearheaded a half dozen local psychedelics reform measures in the state and that previously criticized the statewide ballot campaign for a lack of consultation in the lead-up to the filing.
Meanwhile, in the Massachusetts legislature, a Republican lawmaker filed three psychedelics reform bills in April, including proposals to legalize substances like psilocybin and reschedule MDMA pending federal approval while setting a price cap on therapeutic access.
There are several other pieces of psychedelics legislation that have been introduced in Massachusetts for the session by other legislators, including separate measures to legalize certain entheogenic substances for adults.
Another bill would authorize the Department of Public Health to conduct a comprehensive study into the potential therapeutic effects of synthetic psychedelics like MDMA.
Rep. Mike Connolly (D) also filed a bill in 2021 that received a Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on studying the implications of legalizing entheogenic substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca.
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