Psychedelics Reform In California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts & Pennsylvania

Following our previous roundup, numerous states are moving the discussion around psychedelics reform whether through decriminalization, legalization or rescheduling proposals or ancillary measures to access to the new therapies.

  • CaliforniaTREAT, a citizen-led initiative aiming to create a $5 million state agency to fund and promote psychedelics research, was withdrawn from the 2024 ballot as of Nov. 2. The decision came after advocates were reportedly informed by state polls that some 60% voters would oppose the proposal. The campaign is now shifting its focus to a broader exploration of mental health solutions under new name TREAT Humanity, reported Marijuana Moment.  

October 27, advocates formally filed the Psychedelic Wellness and Healing Initiative of 2024, a proposal legalizing adult use, possession and growing of psychedelics for medical, therapeutic and spiritual use with a doctor’s recommendation, aiming for the 2024 ballot. Possession of entheogens would be “as much as needed for one’s own annual personal use.”

Following a 30-day public comment period, the initiative will receive an official ballot title and summary enabling advocates to start collecting signatures. To qualify for the 2024 ballot, the campaign must gather 546,651 valid signatures from state voters by April 23, 2024.

A third initiative legalizing psilocybin for adult and therapeutic use and backed by Decriminalize California got official approval to start collecting signatures in July and is still on the run.

  • Wisconsin: Companion bills SB 445 and AB 393 define kratom products as intended for human or animal consumption -including food, drink, chewing gum and food supplements made from any part of the plant. The proposal effectively legalizes its manufacture, distribution, delivery and possession (subject to certain limitations,) and additionally removes kratom from the state’s schedule of controlled substances. The Senate bill received two fiscal estimates, one in Sept. 29 and another in Oct. 3 and stands at the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. Its Assembly counterpart has seen a substitute amendment offered by coauthor Rep. Murphy on Oct. 31 and stands now at the Committee on State Affairs. 

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  • Massachusetts: The MA for Mental Health Options psychedelics legalization campaign says it has enough valid signatures, over 75,000, to compel state lawmakers to consider the initiative, amid its potential inclusion in the state’s 2024 ballot (requiring a minimum 74,574 signatures)

The broad proposal would not only legalize adult use, possession and gifting (with specified limited amounts) but also home cultivation, and create a regulatory framework for legal, supervised access to psychedelics. The campaign has as of Friday, Oct. 27 suspended signature gathering and is in the process of verifying the submitted petitions with state officials.

On the legislative side, S 1263 regulating the safe use of psilocybin finally saw some movement during October. After its introduction back in February 2023 and sent to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery right after, a hearing took place Oct. 23. The bill is still standing at the joint committee. 

  • Illinois: Introduced SB 2612 or the Illinois Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens (CURE) Act seeks to establish a state psilocybin advisory board within the Public Health Dept., to eventually start receiving licensing applications for manufacturing and testing of psilocybin products, operating service centers or facilitating psilocybin services. It would further create a “Psilocybin Control and Regulation Fund” and “the Illinois Psilocybin Fund,” making conforming changes in the State Finance Act and further requiring the Agriculture Dept., the Liquor Control Commission, and the Revenue Dept. to perform specified duties. It’s been referred to the Assignments Committee since its introduction, where it currently stands
  • PennsylvaniaSenate Bill 959 would amend the state’s 1972  Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to strictly follow federal scheduling and rescheduling -either higher or lower categories- of controlled substances. Introduced on Oct. 16, it went through the Senate’s Judiciary and Appropriations committees and finally passed the chamber on October 25, when it was sent to the House. It has been referred to the Judiciary committee, where it currently stands

At the federal level, two of the agencies involved in controlled substances matters have also voiced their standpoints: the FDA issued a warning over ketamine misuse, while the DEA extended telemedicine flexibilities and proposed an augmented production quota of psychedelics and cannabis for research purposes.

Additionally, Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson asserted the need for a universal healthcare that includes psychedelic treatments for mental health conditions, and Congress postponed a hearing on psychedelics and veterans amid the House speaker position vacancy.

At the local level, two cities, one in Maine and another in California, undertook measures decriminalizing possession and use of entheogens -aka “natural” psychedelics.

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