Among the legislation introduced in Massachusetts this past Friday was a proposal to end the criminalization of all drugs in the state.
Under the proposed bill HD 3439, all criminal penalties for drug possession would be removed, and instead replaced with a civil fine of $50, with a chance to opt out after being screened 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”.
Now named the “Act Relative to Harm Reduction and Racial Justice,” one of the motivating factors behind the legislative measure was to help repair the racial injustices brought about by the war on drugs.
The legislation also called for the pardoning of criminals who are serving sentences for possession or distribution of controlled substances.
Research into Psychedelics
Along with decriminalization the legislative bill suggested the creation of a task force focused on researching and studying the effects of plant- and fungi-based psychedelics, with the ultimate result of legalization and regulation of such substances.
Conducting the research into psychedelics will be a 21-person task force, with the goal of studying plant- and fungi-based substances, and draw up recommendations on how to legalize these substances “in a manner that maximizes equitable access and sustainable manufacture of these plants.”
Other goals for the task force laid out by the legislation include providing recommendations on providing “pardons, parole, diversion, expungement, and equity measures” to criminals currently serving drug possession charges.
Controlled Substance Legalization Across the United States
The introduction of this decriminalization bill in Massachusetts coincides with other attempts at decriminalizing and legalizing various drugs across the United States.
California lawmaker Sen. Scott Wiener (D) introduced legislation that would legalize the possession and sharing of several drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ketamine, mescaline, ibogaine, DMT and MDMA, and expunge the records of criminals arrested for the possession or distribution of these drugs.
Pushes for psilocybin decriminalization can also be seen in Republican-controlled states such as in Iowa, where Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill calling for the removal of psilocybin from the list of controlled substances.
Legislators in Texas have also begun talks discussing the therapeutic uses of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine in treating certain health conditions.
Meanwhile in Vermont, lawmakers are set to introduce a bill in the coming weeks to decriminalize all drugs, and to remove psilocybin from the state’s list of controlled substances.
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