Grassroots community group Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, which has more than 3,000 volunteers across the New England region, has worked with five city councils in order to pass measures to decriminalize psychedelic plants, including psilocybin mushrooms, in the fight for broad-based psychedelic legalization. Following this feat, it has turned its attention to the legalization of psychedelics nationwide.
The coalition has since filed a swathe of bills exceeding that from any other state. Below, we offer a brief summary of what each bill entails.
The Community Group Lobbying for Psychedelic Legalization
Bay Staters is a grassroots volunteer network seeking to end the war on drugs and expand access to affordable, equitable psychedelic plants and fungi like psilocybin mushrooms. They also offer free training on safe substance use, facilitation services to advise on its safe use, small business mentorship, as well as grow kits for legal mushrooms.
Contrary to profit-driven facilitation services, their roots are in courageous city advocacy. Having started in just 2021, their grassroots volunteer efforts have helped achieve the decriminalization of psychedelic plants and all personally controlled substance possession in various Northeastern cities to date.
H1754 and S1009: Related to Plant Medicine
As filed this year by Representative Sabadosa and Senator Jehlen, the two lawmakers previously helped champion marijuana legalization. In addition, this legislation will help to end all criminal charges associated with the possession, use, cultivation, and non-commercial sharing of psilocybin mushrooms and DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline. The legislation effectively legalizes home-grown psychedelic plants, bolstering the feat for legalization.
The trajectory of the bill was recently updated with help from Republican State rep Nick Boldyga, who filed an update that will prevent risk of delicensing by mental health professionals for such activities and protect parents impacted by childhood custody laws.
Massachusetts legislation also uses the legal age of 18 as opposed to 21, citing the need for young people to feel as though they can be transparent about substance use in legal settings, in contrast to a culture of binge drinking or pregaming, leaving them more vulnerable to abuses in the college setting.
H2137: An Act concerning the use of a prescription medicine that contains MDMA
Boldyga also filed a recent bid that will automatically reschedule MDMA should the federal government approve it to effectively treat PTSD. Unlike similar legislation passed in Colorado, this legislation will issue a price cap of $5,000 on the treatments in question.
Since the FDA has approved MDMA, a single corporation will have exclusive rights to sell treatments for six to twelve years, according to the New York Times. The price cap will ensure affordability despite the monopoly in place.
H2002: An Act Relative to Harm Reduction & Racial Justice
By decriminalizing possession amounts of all controlled substances, individuals with substance abuse problems will be encouraged to undergo a health assessment. Bay Staters partnered with Rep. Mike Connolly and Rep. Sam Montano to ensure the bill gets correctly filed this session. Contrasting to Oregon’s Measure 110, the law would not create any fines, modeling the policies of Portugal by offering public health screenings to people in need without the threat of punishment.
Creating fines for substance possession would ironically increase enforcement and police interaction. This would convey that addiction issues should be punished rather than treated as public health issues.
Ultimately, the legislation is also critical to changing the racial discourse around substance use. It is projected to substantially benefit community relations between police and the communities in the time to come.
H.1787: An Act Automatically Sealing Cannabis Records & Promoting Uniform Digital Record Keeping
Massachusetts makes it difficult for individuals to go through the process of expunging cannabis charges through CORI clinics. The statewide system is primarily paper-based, with bad record-keeping practices in place.
Many vulnerable people convicted of marijuana charges still suffer from being denied employment and housing. They are ill-equipped to fill out nearly seven pages of paperwork, advocate for themselves in a courtroom, and make the journey to clinics and courthouses. As a result, less than seven expungements for cannabis are completed every year– with tens of thousands of residents whose charges remain unsealed.
This is why Bay Staters for Natural Medicine partnered with Rep. Chynah Tyler, Rep. Sam Montaño, Code for Boston, the Greater Boston Legal Foundation, and others to push for the sealing to be automatic. Unlike expungements, sealing allows people to access their records for social equity programs and immigration purposes. But, all the companies that mine court data to deny opportunity won’t be able to do so. This bill will help digitize data in a way that other controlled substances charges will eventually be sealed too.
The Other Bills Summarized
HD3771– An Act concerning legalizing certain natural plants and fungi (Rep. Boldyga). This act is similar in nature to the Act, Relative to Plant Medicine.
S1263– An Act regulating the safe use of psilocybin as endorsed by Senator Moran.
HD3772– An Act concerning the legal use of the plant medicine known as psilocybin for therapeutic, spiritual, and medicinal purposes, also endorsed and lobbied for by Rep. Boldyga.
From small-town advocacy to making waves across states, Bay Staters have proven vital in the feat of psychedelic legalization in multiple states so far. Together with progressive lawmakers, they continue to light the way for affordable and responsible access to psychedelic products. And with the fight far from over, we’d advise that you keenly watch this space.
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