Massachusetts Psychedelic Ballot Measure Faces Signature Setback

Efforts to get plant-based psychedelic substances legalized in the state of Massachusetts may have hit a snag after one regulation on gathering signatures was violated. The regulation in question was the printing of the logo of a labor union on ballot sheets, which may have invalidated the whole process. This oversight may prevent the measure from being included on the 2024 ballot.

Deborah O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, revealed that the elections’ division found the disqualifying marks and informed the legalization campaign. O’Malley explained that any stray marks or modifications invalidated the whole sheet.

The legalization campaign, Massachusetts for Mental Health Options, was championing a measure that would permit individuals aged 21 years and above to legally use psychedelics such as hallucinogenic mushrooms at a licensed facility. The resolution would also decriminalize the possession of substances, including mescaline, ibogaine and psilocybin, in the state. It should be noted though that these substances are still illegal at the federal level due to their classification under the Controlled Substances Act.

In a statement, the ballot campaign’s spokesperson, Jennifer Manley, stated that they were focused on ensuring that the signature threshold needed to advance the petition in the ballot process was met. This revelation comes about two weeks after the campaign announced that it had surpassed the signature threshold.

The recent news calls attention to a divide in the activist community, with local activists on one end and a federal group on the other.

The current campaign for the ballot petition is being supported by New Approach PAC, which is funded by big donors. This has made some skeptical of the strategy being used to push for decriminalization of psychedelics.

Bay Staters for Natural Medicine’s founder, James Davis, stated that it came as no surprise that PAC had bungled signature collection. He noted that their resolution, which would legalize the substances in a better way, was still advancing in the legislature. Davis then noted that even if the campaign did meet and surpass the signature threshold, his campaign would aim to change the language used in the ballot question.

Davis’ organization opposes provisions in the proposed measure that would establish a new body to regulate psychedelic substances. This comes after activists condemned an Oregon regulatory commission for making psychedelics exceedingly expensive.

The psychedelics campaign has until Nov. 22, 2023, to file its signatures for certification.

The potential collapse of the Massachusetts campaign is just one of other progressive priorities that have ran into some issues in the past week. Last week, efforts to include a rent control question on next year’s ballot were suspended, with the primary reason for the change of heart being that the needed signatures wouldn’t have been gathered in time.

Despite the setbacks in some states where campaigners want to see drug laws reformed to allow the use of psychedelics, companies such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) are taking the path of developing drugs following the approval process set by the FDA. This approach sidesteps the complexities associated with the local and national politics of the time.

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