Psilocybin has been in the news with increasing frequency as research into psychedelic therapy has proliferated, and a number of local jurisdictions, including the cities of Oakland, Denver, and Santa Cruz have decriminalized psilocybin to varying degrees. Much like cannabis, public perception of certain psychedelics like psilocybin is shifting rapidly, as people really the incredible potential for therapeutic benefits of entheogenic plants.

Last November, proponents (Decriminalize California) submitted the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative 2020, which seeks to “decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in California by submitting a citizens initiative to be placed on the ballot for the November 3, 2020 election, to the Office of the Attorney General.” In order to make it on the ballot, the initiative will need 623,212 valid signatures and in order to pass, it will need a 50% +1 vote. According to Decriminalize California, the current timeline for the initiative is as follows:

  • Submitted to the Office of the Attorney General on 1st November 2019.
  • 30 Day Public Comment period ended on 4th December 2019.
  • Received Title, Summary, and Fiscal Impact Reportfrom the Office of the Attorney General on 8th January 2020.
  • Currently: Eligible for signature collection.

The drafters of the current iteration of the initiative cite the following findings and declarations:

  • No one should be in prison for using Magic Mushrooms.
  • No families should be separated for using Magic Mushrooms.
  • Magic Mushrooms have been safely used for thousands of years for spiritual and religious purposes.
  • Taxing Magic Mushrooms will generate money for the State.
  • Regulating the sale of Magic Mushrooms will take money away from gangs and drug cartels.
  • Denver and Oakland have decriminalized Magic Mushrooms.
  • Magic Mushrooms are much safer than caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. A 2010 analysis of the harms associated with the war on drugs found Mushrooms to be the safest of all twenty drugs studied.
  • The FDA designated Psilocybin (the main component of Magic Mushrooms) as a Breakthrough Therapy for treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder.
  • Research conducted by the Beckley Foundation has found Magic Mushrooms to be a safe and effective treatment for severe and treatment-resistant depression, anxiety in terminally ill patients, and nicotine addiction.

The initiative proposes amendments to the Health and Safety Code that would implement a regulatory framework for the “cultivation, processing and distribution of Psilocybin Mushrooms and the chemical compounds contained therein for personal, spiritual, religious, dietary, therapeutic, and medical use.” Many of the purposes cited in the proposed legislative language mirror the concerns of former U.S. Attorney General James Cole in his oft-cited 2013 Cole Memo related to the legalization of marijuana, including preventing distribution to minors, preventing cartels, gangs, and criminal enterprises from benefiting from legalization, preventing impaired driving, etc. But the drafters have contemplated some other purposes to this legislation, including, perhaps most importantly, supporting the therapeutic and medical research of Psilocybin.

Some other highlights from the initiative:

  • Taxes on Psilocybin Mushroom businesses could not exceed the amount charged or assessed for comparable non-Psilocybin Mushroom businesses.
  • Psilocybin Mushroom businesses should be regulated as closely as possible to other agricultural businesses, except for age restrictions and potency testing.
  • Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy could be provided by mental health professionals with specialized training in psychedelic-assisted therapy and a license to administer Psilocybin and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) would work with research institutions to develop protocols for healthcare worker engaged in such therapy.
  • There is a possibility for local jurisdictions to “opt out.”
  • Protections would be in place for employees who utilize psilocybin.
  • Legislation would be established to expunge the records of non-violent prisoners convicted of buying, selling, growing, manufacturing, or possessing Psilocybin Mushrooms.

If you’re interested in learning more about this initiative, or in signing the petition, visit Decriminalize California’s website here. In the meantime, for more on psilocybin, check out the following posts:

Introduce Yourself: Name, Company, Goals