A Kansas lawmaker has filed a bill to legalize the low-level possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms.
Rep. Aaron Coleman (D), a 21-year-old legislator who has been embroiled in controversy over a series of encounters with law enforcement, is sponsoring the legislation. It would remove criminal penalties for possessing up to 50 grams of psilocybin or psilocyn or cultivating the psychedelic compounds.
Under the proposal, possession of more than 50 grams but less than 100 grams would be a civil offense punishable by a maximum $250 fine. Possessing more than 100 grams of the psychedelic would be considered a Class C misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $500 and a one month in jail.
The legislation, titled the “Legalized Homegrown Psilocybin Mushroom Act of 2022,” would amend state statute to make it so it “shall not be a violation” of state law “to cultivate psilocyn or psilocybin.”
Last year, Coleman introduced a bill to broadly decriminalize drug possession in the state that did not advance. And getting a psychedelics reform bill enacted in Kansas would be difficult enough on its own in the conservative legislature, the lawmaker’s recent arrests over suspicion of driving while under the influence likely will not help him build support. The young lawmaker has also previously been arrested on domestic violence charges and faced accusations of abuse and harassment.
Coleman told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview last year that he was inspired to file his broad drug decriminalization bill by a voter-approved initiative in Oregon that ends the threat of jail time for simple drug possession.
The filing of the psilocybin measure also comes as Kansas Democratic leaders are pushing to let voters decide on legalizing medical and adult-use marijuana in the state.
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House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (D) and Assistant Minority Leader Jason Probst (D) held a briefing on the plans this month, emphasizing that constituents are eager for the reform and so the proposed constitutional amendments would let them decide since the GOP-controlled legislature has failed to act.
The legislative leaders say they expect to have the full, or nearly full, support of the Democratic caucus behind these cannabis proposals as well as a separate Medicaid expansion constitutional amendment they’re introducing.
Meanwhile, a medical cannabis bill that the House passed last year is stalled in the Senate, where a move by the body’s president to redirect it to a committee he controls caused the cancellation of hearings before another panel that were scheduled for this week.
Gov. Laura Kelly (D), for her part, supports medical cannabis. She previously pushed a separate proposal that would legalize medical cannabis and use the resulting revenue to support Medicaid expansion, with Rep. Brandon Woodard (D) filing the measure on the governor’s behalf.
Kelly has she said she wants voters to put pressure on their representatives to get the reform passed.
The governor said in 2020 that while she wouldn’t personally advocate for adult-use legalization, she wouldn’t rule out signing the reform into law if a reform bill arrived on her desk.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.