Massachusetts activists have filed a pair of initiatives to legalize the possession of certain psychedelics and allow for licensed facilities to provide supervised services that could go before voters on the state’s 2024 ballot.

Massachusetts for Mental Health Options, which submitted paperwork to form the ballot committee last month, officially submitted the measures on Wednesday.

The two initiatives are nearly identical, except that one would allow adults 21 and older to cultivate their own psychedelics like psilocybin and ayahuasca.

Overall, both would remove criminal penalties for low-level possession of five entheogenic plants and fungi, while establishing a licensing scheme for psychedelic service centers where professionals could administer the substances in a regulated environment.

“We’re facing a severe mental health crisis in Massachusetts and across the country. First responders are on the frontlines—not only in helping others but oftentimes suffering themselves from trauma and burnout,” petitioner Sarko Gergeria, a police lieutenant and psychotherapist, said in a press release. “Natural psychedelic medicines have the potential to heal us in ways that no other therapy can. The need for this is overwhelming, and I pray this will appear on the ballot next year.”

The new statewide push in Massachusetts comes amid a sizable local psychedelics movement that has seen six cities across the commonwealth move to decriminalize natural plants and fungi.

The campaign is being backed by the New Approach PAC, which has financially supported successful psychedelics reform efforts in other states like Colorado.

Here are the key details of the Natural Psychedelic Substances Act:

“A growing body of research from some of the nation’s most respected medical research institutions shows that psychedelics hold tremendous promise in treating depression, end-of-life anxiety, and other serious mental health challenges,” Franklin King, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. “Evidence is likewise clear that the current legal scheduling of naturally occurring psychedelic compounds such as psilocybin is neither appropriate nor scientifically based.”

“I see the effects of the mental health crisis in the emergency room every day, and believe psychedelic therapy offers a potential option to help address this crisis,” he said. “This ballot question will make these tools readily available in a safe and responsible context.”

After the attorney general prepares a summary of the measures and completes a public comment period, the campaign will 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 or measures 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.

Notably, the version of the initiative that allows for home grow is being endorsed by Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, 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. The group is neutral on the measure that lacks a home cultivation option, however.

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“Psilocybin mushrooms helped me open my heart to other people, working through pain and grief that life deals to all of us,” James Davis, co-founder of Bay Staters, said in a press release distributed on Wednesday by the new campaign. “It has been humbling to help bring these gifts of nature to the mainstream, so they can be made accessible for healing.”

His group helped enact local policies to deprioritize enforcement of laws against psychedelics in six cities: Salem, SomervilleCambridgeEasthamptonNorthampton and Amherst.

“After my combat service in the Gulf War, the Veterans Administration put me on over 100 medications, including opiates, for my post-traumatic stress,” Michael Botelho, a Marine veteran and cofounder of New England Veterans for Plant Medicine, said. “Just two grams of psilocybin mushrooms helped me kick those addictive meds. I could get up. I could work. I could live again.”

“If we don’t allow people to access plant-based psychedelics affordably and grow their own then the message is that it’s okay to let veterans die,” he said.

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Meanwhile, in the legislature, a Republican lawmaker recently filed three psychedelics reform bills, 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.

Read the text of the two version of the Natural Psychedelic Substances Act below:

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

The post Massachusetts Campaign Files Psychedelics Legalization Initiatives For 2024 Ballot appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

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