A Massachusetts campaign believes it has collected enough valid signatures to force lawmakers to consider a psychedelics legalization initiative—the first option for the reform before activists move to put it on the state’s 2024 ballot.
In just under two months since Massachusetts for Mental Health Options started petitioning, the campaign says it has internally verified more than 75,000 signatures from registered voters, which is just over the 74,574 threshold that’s required for this first phase of the effort.
The signature milestone, first reported by The Boston Globe on Friday, comes weeks after activists made a decision to pursue one of two psychedelics measures that the state attorney general’s office had cleared in September.
The initiative the campaign selected is more expansive in that it would provide adults with a home cultivation option, wheres the other proposal wouldn’t have. The two measures were otherwise identical, and the New Approach-backed campaign conducted internal polling before deciding which version to pursue.
“We’re feeling really good. It’s obviously a big relief to be where we are,” Jared Moffat, a spokesperson for New Approach, told Marijuana Moment on Friday, adding that the campaign has suspended signature gathering for the time being while town clerks go through the process of formally verifying the petitions that have been submitted.
If the internal validation is substantiated and it’s confirmed that activists collected enough signatures, the next step is to turn them in to the secretary of state’s office before a December 6 deadline.
If the signatures are formally verified by state officials, the measure would then go to the legislature, which could choose to enact the reform, propose a substitute or decline to act. If lawmakers decide not to legalize psychedelics by May 1, activists would then have until July 3 to submit at least 12,429 additional valid signatures to put the proposal on the November 2024 ballot.
The measure 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.
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.
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.