Legalize Plant Medicine Treatments for Addiction and Mental Healthcare
Bay Staters is a Grassroot, People-Powered Movement!
Founded in early 2021, Bay Staters for Natural Medicine (@baystaters) is a grassroots community network of volunteers from all walks of life—including law enforcement, doctors, nurses, addiction treatment workers, and ordinary people. With zero dollars fundraised, it has worked with the city councils of four communities—Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton—to secure unanimous votes making arrests for all drug possession and arrests for growing entheogenic plants the lowest priority for law enforcement.
The community has also secured endorsements from city councilors in Amherst, Salem, Revere, Medford, Burlington (VT), and Boston to present and pass the measure in the next few months. The community group has achieved this work through free events (where we teach growing, trip sitting, and meditation), tabling on city streets, and hosting virtual community action hours every Thursday at 7pm ET that all are welcome to attend.
An Act Legalizing Plant Medicine Treatments for Addiction and Mental Healthcare
You can read the full text of the bill and our longer briefing here: tinyurl.com/addictiontreatmentbill
· Legalizes the use of entheogenic plant for addiction treatment and therapy administered by licensed specialists: our coalition’s legislation will legalize the use of entheogenic plants such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and San Pedro cacti by licensed specialists with training in first-aid, background checks, and a business paying taxes to the Commonwealth. The annual licensing fees will be waived for all first responders and veterans to encourage greater participation of public servants marginalized in our mental healthcare system. This will also generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in tax revenues that will go unrealized without legalization.
· Eliminates criminal penalties for cultivating small amounts of entheogenic plants: this legislation will allow for the limited growing and gifting of these plants, which pose no risks to public safety in their cultivation and bring notable benefits to residential air quality. Modeling the policies and lessons of over a dozen municipalities, including six Massachusetts communities, this legislation will create much needed transparency that improves public safety and makes these plants accessible to treatment specialists. Unlike cannabis, the production of these plants is not a major source of revenue nor complexity.
· Eliminates criminal penalties for the use and possession of small amounts of all controlled substances: this legislation will reduce stark racial disparities in possession arrests by as much as 95 percent, modeling the experience of three countries, the State of Oregon, and six Massachusetts communities. To protect Amazonian tree frogs and Sonoran Desert toads, this legislation creates civil rather than criminal penalties to deter poaching and animal abuse. This legislation also creates a small civil penalty for possessing peyote to discourage its use outside of the strategy being employed by nationwide stakeholders to preserve its ecological sustainability. This will ultimately save tens of millions of dollars annually from incarceration, which costs hundreds of dollars per day per person, and end the cycle that keeps addicted people cycling throughout the criminal justice system.
· Creates a legal pathway for the Secretary of Health to approve the university analysis and production of trypatimines, phenethlyamines, benzylisoquinolines, and lysergamides: this legislation will unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in innovation, workforce development, and high-skilled employment by enabling universities to study-controlled substances without the costly prohibitions of the federal government. From creating novel treatments for Alzheimer’s, testing controlled substances for students to prevent tragic overdose deaths, and producing safe supplies for overdose prevention sites, this bill represents the future of neurological research. This will position our Commonwealth to create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.
· Creates measures for restorative justice: dependent on the passage of the Judiciary committee’s automatic expungement bill, this legislation will incorporate the same language. It will also create a justice task force to recommend budget amendments that directly benefit formerly incarcerated people. It will also create a public safety task force to commend brave detectives working to stem the production of fentanyl and methamphetamine, optimize Commonwealth resources for those efforts, improve the mental healthcare system for first responders, and integrate entheogenic therapies into the corrections system to reduce recidivism.
The Benefits of Entheogenic Plants
A Revolution in Mental Health and Addiction
A meta-analysis from two decades of clinical trials found these plants to have substantial effects for treating depression and PTSD (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32529966/). And a 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that psilocybin therapy puts major depression in remission for one in two sufferers. Clinical trials have shown plant medicines like ayahuasca and ibogaine to be some of the most effective treatments for alcoholism and opioid addiction.
This bill will ripple throughout the world since our Commonwealth is the biomedical capital of the world, creating momentum for international change that is years in the making. If we wait, indigenous healers, therapists, and treatment centers will be forced to continue their operation in fear and stigma. This is what Big Pharma and Billionaire Peter Thiel want to increase their market share: in the years to come, we will decide if want healers to be forced to buy the artificial psychedelics at inflated prices from pharmaceutical companies or allow adults to grow and use them in peace as they have for thousands of years. A legal treatment that could cost $100 (or free for people in need) will instead cost nearly $15,000 if these corporations have their way.
* Opioid Overdoses: In the month of May alone, nearly 170 of our friends, family members, and neighbors in Massachusetts lost their lives to opioid overdoses. A 2017 study of 44,000 Americans found that psychedelic use is associated with a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse.
* Depression and Trauma: Massachusetts millennials have the highest rates of depression for their age group in the United States, and nearly one in five residents regardless of age suffer from depression. Naturally occurring plants and fungi, like psilocybin mushrooms, have been designated "breakthrough therapies" by the FDA for their substantial benefits in major depressive disorder.
A November 2020 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found one in two patients put their major depression in remission after only two psilocybin therapy sessions, making it four times more effective than standard depression medications. A 2020 meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials dating back almost two decades found that psychedelic-assisted therapy is substantially effective in treating PTSD, depression, anxiety linked to terminal illness, and social anxiety linked to autism. Other studies confirm this result, finding that entheogens substantially reduce psychological distress and suicidal planning and ideation.
* Smoking: Smoking kills one in five of our friends, family members, and neighbors in Massachusetts. Apart from premature deaths and quality of life implications, smoking also cost our state hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid expenses every year. A 2017 study by Johns Hopkins medical faculty found that smoking patients achieved an 80% abstinence rate over six months with psilocybin mushroom assisted therapy—a 45% higher success rate than the most effective smoking cessation drug. Similarly, research suggests potential benefits for treating alcoholism.
* Cluster Headaches: Some Massachusetts residents suffer from cluster headaches, an extremely debilitating condition. A study by the American Academy of Neurology interviewed patients who tried psilocybin in the absence of any known cure. Five in seven reported psilocybin ended the headaches and one in two reported a complete termination of the ailment.