Massachusetts Psychedelics Legislation Runs into Trouble

The initiative seeks to legalize the use of psychedelics in licensed facilities.

Campaign organizers in Massachusetts may have violated signature-gathering regulations and potentially invalidated thousands of signatures in their quest to legalize psychedelics in the state, according to nonprofit news organization WBUR.

“We are working diligently to ensure we meet the signature threshold to move our petition … forward in the ballot qualification process,” Jennifer Manley, a spokesperson for the ballot campaign said in a statement.

Massachusetts for Mental Health Options started petitioning to collect signatures to push lawmakers to consider a psychedelics legalization initiative. In just two months, the group said it verified 75,000 signatures – enough to get past the first hurdle for getting on the 2024 ballot.

A Union Label

However, WBUR reported that state officials noticed that the campaign printed a labor union logo on the ballot sheets. That violates signature-gathering regulations in the state and could potentially invalidate thousands of signatures.

Deborah O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, told the news outlet that clerks in the elections division noticed the disqualifying marks and alerted the campaign.

“Any alteration or stray mark invalidates the entire sheet,” O’Malley said.

The group has until Nov. 22 to file the signatures for certification. Manley told WBUR that she believes they will still make that deadline.

According to Marijuana Moment, 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.

Proposed Legislation

The proposed law would create a framework under which individuals over the age of 21 could purchase and use certain psychedelics at licensed facilities. Sales at the facilities would be subject to a 15% state excise tax on top of the standard sales tax. Cities or towns may also levy a separate tax of up to 2%.

It would also legalize the possession and gifting of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca, but it would not provide for commercial retail sales of the substances.

The law would create a five-member commission to “administer the law governing the use and distribution of these psychedelics substances.”

Just a week ago, the governor of Massachusetts filed a bill called the HERO Act that among many items would create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA for military veterans.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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