In the State of California, laws may be enacted by the California state legislature or through a citizen-driven ballot initiative. Whereas laws passed through the legislature require the majority of California legislators’ support, the ballot initiative process gives California voters the power to propose new laws or amendments without the oversight or support of any government official.
As discussed, the California State Assembly will soon vote to approve or reject Senate Bill 58, a proposed law that aims to decriminalize the use of certain psychedelics and create a facilitated adult-use program. While we wait for a decision by the legislature, California citizens are working to provide supplementary or alternative psychedelic policy options through the following proposed ballot initiatives.
There are several key steps for a ballot initiative to become a binding law. First, the text of the proposed law must be drafted and submitted to the California Secretary of State. Next, certification must be submitted to show that five percent of California’s electorate has signed a petition in support of enacting the proposed law. If the required number of signatures is achieved, the proposed law will go on the ballot for the next state election, where the citizenry will vote to approve or reject the proposed law. The two following measures are actively collecting signatures in hopes of getting on the ballot in 2024.
Ballot Initiative to Create a $5 Billion Psychedelic Research Institute
The TREAT California Act (“TREAT”) aims to “revolutionize mental healthcare” in California by creating the TREAT Institute, a $5 billion state funding agency that would promote research, education, and access to treatment using psychedelic medicines.
TREAT itself does not decriminalize or legalize psychedelic medicines. Rather, TREAT would provide grant awards and bonds to promote psychedelic research and develop the industry capacities necessary to deliver equitable access to federally approved psychedelic-assisted therapies.
The TREAT Institute would have an oversight board, selected by California state elected officials, consisting of California citizens with expertise in the relevant fields. Working groups consisting of representatives of diverse backgrounds and expertise would provide insight that the board would use to ensure funds are distributed to the most promising, and thereby cost-effective, treatment modalities.
Initiative to Decriminalize & Legalize Commercial Psilocybin Mushrooms
The California Psilocybin Initiative 2024 (CPI 2024) would remove criminal penalties for individuals 21 years of age or older who cultivate, manufacture, process, distribute, transport, possess or use psilocybin, in any quantity.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) would regulate psilocybin in a manner akin to mushrooms currently produced in an agricultural context. Psilocybin could be legally sold to adults 21 years of age or older by any business with a valid California Seller’s Permit, and psilocybin may be cultivated, manufactured, and distributed by any business approved by the CDFA for food production. Psilocybin marketed for recreational purposes may be taxed locally at the location of sale, but psilocybin sold for medical, therapeutic, religious, or spiritual purposes may not be taxed under CPI 2024.
CPI 2024 would also allow “qualified healthcare practitioners” who have received “specialized training certifications” to administer psilocybin for research, treatment, or personal development purposes. Qualification requirements and protocols for such therapeutic use would be created by an “independent professional certifying body” and implemented by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and California Health and Human Services.
Manzuri Law – Trusted Psychedelic Attorneys
There is significant support and momentum for the regulation of psychedelics in California, with additional community groups actively drafting ballot initiatives to propose for the upcoming election. Sign up for the Manzuri Law newsletter to stay up to date on the rapidly evolving psychedelic policy landscape and how you can get involved.