Sunday 10 December 2023

Massachusetts Ballot Proposal Seeks To Legalize Psychedelics

 Massachusetts voters may legalize certain psychedelics in 2024 through a ballot proposal awaiting final approval from their secretary of state.

The proposed ballot question, the Natural Psychedelic Substances Act, would allow adults 21 and older to use and grow psilocybin and psilocyn, or the substances found in magic mushrooms, as well as the plant-derived psychedelics mescaline, ibogaine, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). All of the psychedelics are currently Schedule I drugs, as they have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The proposal prohibits the retail sale of these psychedelics, with purchases only allowed at certain locations where the individual must use the drugs under the supervision of a licensed facilitator.

If passed next November, the proposed law would take effect almost immediately: December 15, 2024. The state would catch up to the six Massachusetts cities that have already decriminalized magic mushrooms: Northampton, Easthampton, Amherst, Somerville, Cambridge, and Salem.

The committee behind the ballot question, Massachusetts for Mental Health Options (MMHO), was established by two political consultants: Danielle McCourt and Meredith Lerner Moghimi. Prior to founding her political consulting firm in 2018, McCourt served as the finance director for then-Massachusetts attorney general, now governor, Maura Healy.

In a press release, MMHO’s grassroots outreach director Emily Oneschuk said that psychedelic drugs helped veterans like her. Oneschuk left the Navy as a conscientious objector last year.

“Plant based therapeutics are the most effective treatment I have seen for veterans struggling with mental health challenges after service,” said Oneschuk.

The committee filed two virtually identical versions of their ballot petition, with “Version A” allowing individuals to grow psychedelics at home.


The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office approved both versions of the petition in September. MMHO advanced the version allowing home growth of psychedelics.

McCourt and Moghimi confirmed to Psychedelic Week that MMHO received backing from New Approach PAC, a political action committee founded in 2013 to legalize marijuana. The PAC’s founder and director, Graham Boyd, also founded and directed the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Drug Law Reform Project and was a visiting fellow at Stanford Law School.

Boyd is also a political director for Dr. Bronner’s, the California-based company specializing in organic soaps and personal care products. Dr. Bronner’s has been one of the biggest funders of New Approach PAC, giving nearly $7.8 million to the nonprofit in 2020 alone.

After Dr. Bronner’s, the New Approach PAC also received millions from the Van Ameringen Foundation and Scotts Miracle-Gro. Over the last decade, the nonprofit has given over $25.9 million to various marijuana and psychedelic legalization efforts.

Massachusetts wouldn’t be the first state to legalize magic mushrooms; Oregon was, earlier this year. Like Massachusetts’ ballot proposal, Oregon doesn’t allow for the retail sale of psychedelics. Individuals must use the drugs at an approved location under supervision.

Washington, D.C., legalized psychedelics in 2020.

Colorado voters approved legalization last year, which is scheduled to take effect next year.

California nearly followed suit. The California legislature passed a bill legalizing hallucinogenic drugs, including magic mushrooms earlier this year; Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed it.

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