Mass Psychedelics Law: An Initiative and Overview
Massachusetts residents may soon have the opportunity to vote on whether to implement regulated adult-use access to psychedelics. This is the first in a series of posts exploring the many novel and complicated issues of law, policy and business impacted by state legalization and regulation of these substances.
What’s happening in Massachusetts?
Two initiative petitions have been filed in Massachusetts that, if passed into law, would provide legal access to psychedelics. The difference between the two petitions is that one Version A provides for home grow and Version B does not allow home grow. The petitions will appear on the 2024 ballot if the petitioners are able to collect the required number of signatures before the deadline. If you live in Massachusetts, you might be asked to add your signature, so it’s best to be informed!
What is the one-paragraph summary of the initiative petition?
Personal possession, use and non-commercial sharing would be legalized. A regulatory commission would be created to license cultivators, labs and service providers to facilitate the purchase and supervised use of psychedelics by adults over the age of 21. Supervision would be by state-licensed facilitators. These transactions would create tax revenue that would fund the program. The proposed law would not permit retail purchase of psychedelics except for supervised use at an approved location. Version A would allow home cultivation for personal, non-commercial use. The law would take effect on 12/15/2024.
Who filed the petitions?
An organization called Massachusetts for Mental Health Options filed the proposed law. It is our understanding that this organization, and the initiative petitions, are backed by New Approach PAC which was behind both the Oregon voter initiative and the Colorado voter initiative (both of which were passed by the voters). There are a number of similarities and differences among the three iterations, the significance of which will be fleshed out in future installments of this blog series.
What’s the big picture for state-legal programs?
So, if you haven’t been following the psychedelic news the last several years, here’s the rundown. Most of these substances (like psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, etc.) are still Schedule 1 drugs and, therefore, federally illegal. Various cities across the country (including several in Massachusetts) passed decriminalization measures which place enforcement of the laws criminalizing possession/use of psychedelics at the lowest priority for local police. A shout out to Bay Staters for Natural Medicine which spearheaded these policy changes and provided critical, grassroots advocacy for MA’s decriminalization measures. You can learn more about Bay Staters for Natural Medicine at https://www.baystatersnm.org/.
In 2020, Oregon voters passed Measure 110 which decriminalized a wide range of drugs, and Measure 109 which authorized a system of licensure and regulated access to psilocybin. Oregon’s psilocybin regulations have been promulgated, licenses have been approved, and as of around July 2023, people in Oregon have been paying money for psilocybin grown in state-licensed cultivation facilities and consuming the substance under the supervision of state-licensed facilitators.
In 2022, Colorado voters approved a voter initiative that decriminalized psychedelics and authorized regulated, supervised access. The Colorado regulators are still in the midst of rulemaking and no licenses have yet been issued.
Will Massachusetts voters approve a similar law in 2024?
We will keep you updated. Reach out if you want to chat about legal services in the psychedelic space.