An end-run around rescheduling psilocybin

Given the ever-increasing interest in psilocybin, I’m not especially surprised that there is a move to reduce criminal penalties in California by a voter initiative even though I wasn’t expecting it so soon. There have been two categories of news coverage which I have been recording on the Psychedelic Law Facebook, primarily news stories about arrests for psilocybin, which are springing up like…mushrooms after rain, and discussions of initial research in human subjects.

Heading straight for decriminalization at the state level seems to be a far superior approach to legalizing the market for psilocybin than challenging federal Schedule I classification, i.e. in the form of a rescheduling petition. Multiple rescheduling petitions to move cannabis out of Schedule I have failed even after legalization of medical use in more than half the states. There is no comparable anecdotal evidence of medical use of psilocybin, even though there has been high-profile coverage of clinical research.

This approach tracks the approach cannabis legalization activists took with Proposition 215 in California in 1996. However, the initiative is not relying on a medical necessity defense to state criminal prosecution, which is the essence of Proposition 215. Instead it’s a straight elimination of criminal penalties for general possession and use. Like Proposition 215 it makes no provision for the elements of a regulated market and, to my eye, is therefore not viable: I’m just not seeing a completely free market in such a power psychoactive substance as a viable policy option. It doesn’t even reference increased research into safety.

The voter initiative is just a conversation-starter – the proponents have successfully generated buzz in the mainstream media. Like Proposition 215, it’s the first step of a long journey – functionally a recruiting tool for activists.

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