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Three In Five American Voters Support Legalizing Psychedelic Therapy, And Half Want To End Criminalization Altogether, New Poll Finds



About three in five American voters say psychedelics should be legalized for regulated, therapeutic use—and nearly half believe possession should be decriminalized for personal use for any reason—according to a new national poll.

UC Berkeley’s Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) presented top-line findings from its first-ever survey at a psychedelics conference in Denver, where top advocates, researchers and Colorado’s governor were among those who spoke about the rapidly evolving policy landscape.

The poll found that 61 percent of U.S. registered voters support “creating a regulated legal framework for the therapeutic use of psychedelics,” including 35 percent who strongly support it. Thirty-four percent voiced opposition, and five percent said they were unsure.

Another 49 percent of respondents said that they back removing criminal penalties for the use and personal possession of entheogenic plants and fungi altogether.

Asked about a medicalized model where psychedelics would need to be approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and prescribed by physicians, 56 percent said they support that proposal, compared to 38 percent who are opposed and six percent who are unsure.

Additionally, the survey showed that nearly four in five Americans (78 percent) said that they’re in favor of “making it easier for researchers to study psychedelic substances.”

“This is the first clear picture we have of what the American public think and feel about psychedelics,” BCSP Executive Director Imran Khan said in a press release. “The Berkeley Psychedelics Survey shows that the majority of American voters are interested in, and supportive of, the field. They want fewer barriers to research for scientists, and they want regulated, therapeutic access for the public.”

“Amidst all the stigma and the hype about these powerful substances, it’s vital that researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners can understand and respond to the public’s hopes and fears,” Khan said. “We’re excited to reveal the full results of the Berkeley Psychedelics Survey in the coming weeks.”

The full results of the survey will be released on July 12. Until then, details about the methodology such as the number of respondents, timeline of the polling and margin of error—as well as demographic breakdowns that might reveal age- and partisan-based trends—are unknown.

While there are countless surveys showing the growing, bipartisan support for marijuana reform in the U.S., comprehensive polling on psychedelics is rare.

One other national survey of likely voters released in March did similarly find majority support for allowing regulated access to psychedelics for therapy and federal decriminalization. But beside these two examples, psychedelics polling has been largely limited to specific regions, such as Colorado and Washington, D.C.

Considering that Denver became the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms just four years ago, the consistent majority support for reform is notable—and that interest has been reflected in the massive push at the local, state and federal level to change laws governing the hallucinogenic substances.

The MAPS Psychedelic Science 2023 conference where the Berkeley poll was unveiled also underscored the bipartisan nature of the movement, with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) both advocating for regulated access to psychedelics.

Colorado voters approved a psychedelics legalization ballot measure last year, and Polis signed a bill to implement regulations for the initiative last month. Oregon voters, meanwhile, legalized psilocybin services in 2020, and the state is moving to open up facilities where adults can be administered the psychedelic in a supervised environment.

But what started as a localized decriminalization movement quickly spread all the way up to Congress, where just last week a Republican congressman’s amendment to require clinical trials into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for military service members was adopted in committee as part of a must-pass defense bill.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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