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California Initiative Proposes Regulation of Psychedelics for Medicinal Use

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California Initiative Proposes Regulation of Psychedelics for Medicinal Use

Final revisions to the proposed Psychedelic Wellness & Healing Initiative were submitted yesterday to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office for fiscal analysis. The California Attorney General is expected to certify the proposed state initiative for circulation and issue its official title and summary to the California Secretary of State on January 2, 2024. 

If passed, the Psychedelic Wellness & Healing Initiative would allow for the sale, possession and use of psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, and mescaline for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. The initiative seeks to give doctors and mental health specialists the ability to recommend psychedelics to address a range of medical conditions. If passed, it would create a statewide framework for regulating possession, use, cultivation and production of psychedelic substances for medicinal and therapeutic use. Section 11395.130 of the initiative would also decriminalize the use and cultivation of entheogenic plants on one’s own property. 

The initiative, which was filed on October 27, follows California Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of Senate Bill 58, which sought to decriminalize the use of certain psychedelic compounds such as psilocybin, DMT and mescaline. Initiative proponent Dave Hodges, founder of the Oakland, California-based Church of Ambrosia, says that SB58 would have created a decriminalized market without provisions to regulate sales or supplies of psychedelics. “Because of his veto we realized we needed to rush the initiative out,” says Hodges. 

Supporters are required to gather 546,651 valid signatures to qualify the initiative for placement on the 2024 ballot. Hodges says initiative proponents should begin that process by January 9 and will need to raise the funds needed to gather the required signatures. “We are not guaranteed to be on the ballot unless we get the money to pay for the signatures,” says Hodges. 

The Church of Ambrosia, which Hodges says now totals 100,000 members, supports access to entheogenic plants and provides psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis and DMT to church members. Hodges says he hopes church members will offer financial support to gather the needed signatures. He says the initiative will not create a system where churches like his will have the ability to sell psychedelics, because the initiative will require a doctor’s recommendation. But the use of psychedelics for medicinal purposes will be protected. He notes that if the initiative is passed, the church will run its own “entheogenic business.” 

The initiative defines an “entheogenic business” as “a California for-profit or nonprofit entity or individual that is a resident of California that possesses, cultivates, manufactures, processes, delivers, wholesales, or retails entheogenic plants or substances for medicinal and therapeutic use, and includes, but is not limited to, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, delivery services, therapy centers, retreat centers, analytical laboratories that test entheogenic plants or substances and medicinal entheogenic plant or substance organizations.” The initiative would allow “entheogenic businesses” to sell, provide, administer, deliver, or gift entheogenic plants and substances only to qualified patients and their primary caregivers. 

Hodges says he believes supporters will have until about July 1, 2024 to collect all the signatures for the initiative, but only until April 23 to qualify for the 2024 ballot. He says he won’t know the official dates until the title and summary are released by the California Attorney General. If the needed signatures are turned in between April 23 and July 1, the initiative will qualify for the 2026 ballot.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include additional information about the signature deadline.

Image by kgroovy used courtesy of an Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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