Learn More About the Ballot Question

In November, Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to vote “Yes” to give residents of our state safe and controlled access to natural psychedelics. Promising research from leading universities—including many prestigious institutions in Massachusetts—shows that natural psychedelics can help people struggling with serious mental health challenges.

Create regulated and licensed therapeutic access to natural psychedelic medicines for individuals 21 years or older

Extend treatment options for both individual and group settings

Create a five-person Governing Board to monitor implementation of the law

Prohibit retail sales 

Activate a tiered licensure system for facilitators

Strictly regulates the use of psychedelic therapy for people who can benefit the most. This includes supervision by a trained and licensed facilitator at an approved location; safety screening before a session; and testing, safety and labeling of psychedelic medicines.

Maintain strict safety regulations and prohibit motor vehicle use under the influence of psychedelics.

Continue to allow state and local governments, businesses, and property owners to enforce laws and policies limiting the possession and use of psychedelic substances under their jurisdictions.

Stories of Healing

Thousands of Commonwealth residents have gone to great lengths to safely access natural psychedelics, including traveling abroad. Among these individuals are leading academic researchers, veterans struggling with recovery from PTSD, patients dealing with a terminal diagnosis, and adults seeking additional treatment options for mental health challenges are advocating for regulated access to these breakthrough therapies. A Yes vote on the ballot questions will mean these stories of healing can happen safely here in Massachusetts. Learn more about their stories below:

I suffered from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and gained profound healing from psilocybin mushrooms. I have also been a caregiver for two loved ones with severe major depressive disorder (and in one case complex PTSD as well) leading to hospitalization, including my best friend who died by suicide. I support legalizing natural psychedelic therapies on behalf of long-suffering mental illness patients, like myself and surviving friends and family, who deserve legal, reliable access to potentially life-saving treatments now.

Graham Moore
Cambridge native, MMHO Educational Outreach Director

Stories of Transformation: Joe McKay – Retired FDNY Firefighter

After the violent loss of my younger brother and the completion of my military service I found myself lost and spiraling. I had exhausted all of the mental health resources I knew of within the VA and privately when I ended up finding natural psychedelics as a last resort. With the support of a non-profit, the Hope Project, I was able to attend a retreat in Jamaica where I experienced psilocybin for the first time under the supervision of a seasoned team of facilitators. The entire process helped me weave the disparate and difficult pieces of my life together in a way that I couldn’t access in traditional talk therapy and the profound effects of that retreat stay with me to this day. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I received and wish I could grant the many other people I know struggling with their own battles the same opportunity I was afforded.

Emily Oneschuk
US Navy Veteran, Wakefield native, MMHO Grassroots Campaign Director

Stories of Transformation: Ethan – Retired NYPD Detective

After returning home from deployment as a KC-130J pilot in the Marine Corps in 2017, I began suffering from debilitating nerve pain without a known cause. By 2019, the pain had overtaken my body as well as my mind. I spent tens of thousands of dollars for treatments not covered by insurance, and countless hours of researching any therapy that could give me a glimmer of hope to heal and enjoy life with my wife and 2 toddlers. When I thought I had exhausted all options and thinking I had nothing left in the tank, a fellow Veteran mentioned psychedelic-assisted therapy. It was through the combination of commitment, plant-based medicine (through a local clinical trial), and therapy that I have been able to heal and finally ‘return home’. I am fully invested in all aspects (to include financially) in ensuring other Veterans and non-Veterans have access to and the opportunity to heal from within.

Ari W. Polivy
USMC Veteran, Massachusetts resident

Psilocybin Therapy in Oregon: Bill’s Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbcqlXP1kp4

We have an opportunity just over the horizon to have Massachusetts be one of the first three states in the nation to offer adults access to psychedelic compounds and centers with facilitated care for wellness, development, and healing. Another way of viewing this is that Massachusetts voters will have the chance to directly confront prohibitionist rules and policy enshrined into law at the federal level which strips adults of their constitutionally protected rights to decide what they put into their bodies. It is an opportunity to tell industry interests that we control the landscape that we live within in Massachusetts.

Lt. Sarko Gergerian, MS, MHC, CARC

Psilocybin Therapy in Oregon: KC’s Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2dDBf716mI&t

At the end of the pandemic, I began my clinical career working at McLean Hospital serving adults in an inpatient unit. Despite the incredible standard of care at McLean, I witnessed problems that extended beyond the scope of support that the hospital was able to provide. I saw patients taking multiple psychiatric medications, receiving both group and individual therapy, and finding the tools to be medically and emotionally stable. For some, this treatment process was effective. For others, this process provided brief stabilization but did not address the underlying issues that prompted their suffering. Many patients were readmitted to the hospital, often repeatedly. It became clear to me that a paradigm shift is needed. Now, the emergence of natural psychedelic medicine gives me hope for the future of behavioral healthcare in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Owen
Massachusetts resident

as

For 25 years I felt like a robot on anti-depressants and had no sense of enjoyment in life. After using psilocybin once I could feel the armor peeling off me and let me live. I could finally connect with others, the world, and myself. It was such a life changing experience and I would recommend it anyone who is interested. It helped me heal where our current medicines and treatments couldn’t

Candance Alexander
Boston MA professional

Ballot Question Deep Dive

What does the 2024 ballot question do?

The measure allows adults 21 and older to access natural psychedelic substances that show therapeutic potential in improving mental health, well-being, and life satisfaction. The policy prioritizes public health by removing the personal use of natural psychedelic substances from the illicit market and enabling supervised, safe use in therapeutic settings with trained, licensed facilitators. The initiative does not permit storefronts or retail sales of psychedelics and does not allow people under 21 to use psychedelics.

When will psychedelic services become available?

If approved by voters this November, the measure outlines a two-year implementation and rulemaking process to establish a program for facilitated, supervised access. Regulators are directed to begin issuing licenses by September 2026, initially for only one psychedelic. Two years later, regulators can consider adding additional substances. We anticipate the state will begin with psilocybin, building on the models from Oregon and Colorado. 

How will the therapeutic program work?

The policy establishes a framework in which adults 21 and older may receive psychedelic services under the supervision of trained, licensed psychedelic facilitators at approved locations. It requires that psychedelic services provided by a facilitator include a safety screen, informed consent, a preparation session, a supervised administration session, and follow-up integration and support. Retail sales of psychedelics would not be permitted, and adults would not be allowed to obtain them from a facilitator and take them home for use on their own. Detailed rules, limitations, and guardrails will be developed during a multi-year rulemaking and implementation process. 

What kinds of specific rules will the regulatory commission develop?

The measure focuses extensively on safety. It directs the commission and advisory board to develop specific rules related to:

  • training programs, educational and experiential requirements, different tiers of licensing, and qualifications for facilitators that protect participant safety;
  • requirements for holding and verifying completion of a safety screen, preparation session, administration session, and integration session;
  • scope of practice for facilitators;
  • a complaint, review, and disciplinary process for facilitators who engage in misconduct;
  • educational materials, health and safety warnings, and informed consent documentation for participants;
  • requirements for laboratory testing of substances for dosage and lack of contaminants;
  • procedures and policies that allow for group administration sessions;
  • recordkeeping, privacy, and confidentiality requirements;
  • security requirements for service centers;
  • requirements to ensure access to regulated natural psychedelic substances is affordable, equitable, ethical, inclusive, and culturally responsible;
  • protections for indigenous and traditional practices; and 
  • best practices that advance safety and reduce harm of use that remains outside the regulated system.

Where else has this been done?

Oregon and Colorado voters have both approved their own ballot questions legalizing and regulating psychedelic therapy. The questions are very similar in all states with the largest difference being that Oregon’s does not include 4 of the 5 substances that both Colorado and Massachusetts have.

How does the policy ensure safety?

Safety is a prominent focus throughout the ballot question and is mentioned nearly 20 times. Specific provisions to promote safety and reduce risks include:

  • Guidelines for the development of content and scope of educational campaigns related to natural psychedelic substances;
  • Development of a safety screen to assess if psychedelic services are appropriate for an individual and create an off-ramp for individuals at high risk for adverse outcomes (e.g., people with a history of psychosis or individuals currenting taking lithium);
  • Requirements for qualifications, training, and education for facilitators focused on mental and physical health;
  • Health warnings and informed consent relating to contraindications and other risks;
  • Tiers of licensure for facilitators to establish higher standards and qualifications to protect participant safety; and
  • Reporting and publication of information pertaining to outcomes to measure success, safety, quality, and impact on individuals’ well-being and public health.

Does the policy require each natural psychedelic substance to be regulated the same?

No. The regulatory commission will have flexibility to regulate each substance according to its unique risk profile to maximize safety. Regulators will not take a “one size fits all” approach. This means that facilitator training, safety screens, health warnings, proper supervision (including medical monitoring), and procedures for the provision of services will be unique for each substance. These specific rules and guidelines will be developed with input from experts who compose the advisory board.

Will there be professional and ethical standards for psychedelic facilitators?

Yes. The regulatory commission is charged with developing professional responsibility standards and education related to ethics. Facilitators who violate professional standards will be disciplined and may lose their license.

Who will oversee and implement the program?

The measure establishes a five-member regulatory commission appointed by the governor, attorney general, and treasurer. This commission will take input and be advised by a 20-member board of experts that includes public safety officials, mental health experts, researchers, representatives of indigenous communities, and other stakeholders. 

How does the FDA process impact this program?

FDA approval for psychedelic medicines is an entirely separate process from the state-regulated program established by this ballot measure. These two systems will not directly interact. The vote by the FDA advisory panel in June 2024 involved MDMA-assisted therapy developed by Lykos, a pharmaceutical company, for the treatment of a specific indication (PTSD). MDMA is not included in the Massachusetts ballot question. The FDA will make an official decision about whether to approve Lykos’ protocol for MDMA in August. These deliberations focus primarily on the technical details related to the design of the clinical trials. In no case will the outcome undermine the significant body of scientific evidence showing that psychedelics hold therapeutic value in helping people who suffer from a wide range of serious mental health conditions.

Where can I read the full text of the policy?

The full text of the ballot question can be viewed here:

https://www.mass.gov/doc/23-13-initiative-petition-for-a-law-relative-to-the-regulation-and-taxation-of-natural-psychedelic-substances-version-a/download

The official summary developed by the Massachusetts Attorney General can be found here:

https://www.mass.gov/doc/final-summary-petition-23-13-version-a/download

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