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Massachusetts residents may get to vote on legalizing access to some psychedelic drugs

A Golden Teacher mushroom is displayed at Epic Healing Eugene, Oregon's first licensed psilocybin service center, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Eugene, Oregon.
Jenny Kane
/
AP
A Golden Teacher mushroom is displayed at Epic Healing Eugene, Oregon's first licensed psilocybin service center, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Eugene, Oregon.

A special joint committee of the Massachusetts legislature is investigating if they should pose the question to voters in November of whether or not to legalize access to some psychedelic drugs.

The committee heard testimony Tuesday from medical experts on legalizing access to psilocybin, the substance found in what's commonly known as magic mushrooms. Many medical experts and proponents of the drug as a therapeutic substance to treat depression and PTSD noted its success in clinical trials.

Dr. Franklin King is a psychiatrist at Mass General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

"The criminalization of psychedelics not only impedes scientific progress, but also denies individuals access to potentially life changing treatments,” King said. “We must adopt a more rational approach, one that prioritizes evidence based policies over outdated stigmas and prohibitions."

Some opponents argue that these clinical trials and the drug itself haven't been FDA approved, which poses a safety risk to the general public.

If approved by voters, Massachusetts would join a growing number of cities and states across the country decriminalizing and or legalizing the use of psychedelics including Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

The Massachusetts special committee will assess the testimonies before they vote to advance the bill or not.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.