Massachusetts lawmakers launched laws Friday that may try to finish the state’s warfare on medication. One proposal would take away felony penalties for possession of all medication, whereas the opposite would set up a job drive to review plant- and fungi-based psychedelics with the eventual purpose of legalizing and regulating the substances.
Calls to finish felony prohibition have been rising throughout the state, and two metropolis councils—in Somerville and Cambridge—earlier this 12 months adopted measures making possession of psychedelics the municipalities’ lowest regulation enforcement priorities.
The statewide decriminalization invoice, HD 3439, launched Friday by Reps. Liz Miranda (D) and Mike Connolly (D), would substitute felony penalties for the possession of any managed substance with a civil effective of as much as $50. To keep away from the effective, people might enroll in a “needs screening to identify health and other service needs, including but not limited to services that may address any problematic substance use and mental health conditions, lack of employment, housing, or food, and any need for civil legal services.”
The Senate model of the laws, SD 2248, was launched Friday by Sen. Julian Cyr (D) and is just about similar to the House invoice. Both measures are titled “An Act Relative to Harm Reduction and Racial Justice,” an acknowledgment of the disproportionate arrests and prosecutions of racial minorities beneath the warfare on medication.
A separate House invoice launched by Connolly on Friday might ultimately take Massachusetts previous easy decriminalization and permit for regulated gross sales of sure medication.
Initially HD 3829 would set up an interagency job drive that might “study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated entheogenic plants and fungi.”
Between now and June 2022, the 21-person job drive would research the consequences of plant- and fungi-based psychedelics and develop suggestions for the way to legalize the substances “in a manner that maximizes equitable access and sustainable manufacture of these plants.”
Particular focus could be paid beneath the invoice to the influence of drug prohibition on on marginalized teams, “including indigenous people, veterans, people with physical and mental health disabilities, Black people, people of Latino and Hispanic heritage, people of Asian descent, people of color, people in poverty, and people identifying with the LGBTQ community.”
The measure additionally requires the duty drive to develop suggestions round “pardons, parole, diversion, expungement, and equity measures” for folks with felony data on account of possession, or distribution of managed substances.
“Our coalition owes these bills to our volunteers across the Commonwealth,” the group Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, which was behind the profitable native decriminalization efforts in Somerville and Cambridge, advised Marijuana Moment in a press release. “From the vicious pain of opioid addiction and cluster headaches to the exclusion of people of color from the mental health care system, it’s your stories of redemption and hope that have created this movement.”
The group added that as it really works to “decriminalize all substance possession and psychedelic cultivation in three additional cities, our goal of decriminalizing 90 percent of the population in Massachusetts by next year is within reach.”
Other drug reformers additionally greeted the payments’ introductions on Friday as a chance to advance conversations round decriminalization, saying the measures are an indication lawmakers are paying shut consideration to work executed by native harm-reduction advocates.
“I’m looking forward to a dialogue in Massachusetts to identify the most effective and evidence-based public health and harm reduction strategies that should replace the failed drug war,” Shaleen Title, a former Massachusetts cannabis regulator and longtime drug coverage activist, advised Marijuana Moment.
“You know that the war on drugs is taking its last dying breaths when you see well-respected legislators from all over Massachusetts listening to and centering groups like Families for Justice as Healing and Black and Pink Massachusetts, which are led by the people most directly affected by drug policing and enforcement, instead of supporting continued racially targeted drug arrests,” Title stated.
Elsewhere throughout the nation, lawmakers are contemplating related reforms to roll again or get rid of drug penalties.
On Thursday, a California lawmaker, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) launched laws that might legalize the possession and social sharing of a number of drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ketamine, mescaline, ibogaine, DMT and MDMA. It would additionally present for the expungement of previous felony data for possession or use. The state would set up a job drive beneath the proposal to review potential future regulatory programs round psychedelics, with a report due in 2024.
A Republican lawmaker in Iowa launched a invoice earlier this month that might remove psilocybin from the list of controlled substances and one other to let critically sick sufferers use psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, DMT and different medication.
In Texas, a state legislator launched a invoice final week to require the state to review the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine within the remedy of sure psychological well being situations.
In close by Vermont, lawmakers are expected to introduce a number of drug reform bills in coming weeks, together with a measure to decriminalize all medication and a separate proposal, anticipated Tuesday, that might take away psychedelic crops and fungi from the state’s checklist of regulated substances.
“Humans have had a close relationship with plants and fungi that goes back to the very beginning of humanity,” Vermont Rep. Brian Cina (P/D), who sponsored the psychedelics invoice, advised Marijuana Moment this week. “But the legacy of colonization has left us with the criminalization of these medicinal, spiritual, religious, entheogenic medicines.”
This story was up to date to incorporate remark from Bay Staters for Natural Medicine.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi