About the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative 2022

What does the Initiative do?

The California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative (hereafter, “the Initiative”) would legalize and regulate psilocybin mushrooms for medical and therapeutic use, and decriminalize them for personal, spiritual, religious, and dietary use.

Does the Initiative legalize the sale of psilocybin mushrooms?

The Initiative would create a legal framework in which sales of psilocybin mushrooms would be regulated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health.


Would sales of psilocybin mushrooms be taxed?

Sales of psilocybin mushrooms would not be subject to an excise tax but possibly a local sales tax. 

In the case of State-legal adult-use cannabis sales in California, high excise tax rates have deterred consumers from purchasing cannabis legally, thereby diverting sales to the illegal market. The Initiative deliberately prohibits imposing an excise tax on psilocybin mushrooms, in order to incentivize consumers to purchase from regulated, licensed retailers.

Under the Initiative, psilocybin mushrooms would be regulated as a foodstuff, and therefore may be subject to local sales tax, depending on the form in which the mushrooms are sold. For example, whole psilocybin mushrooms would not be subject to sales tax, however, a dietary supplement containing psilocybin mushrooms would be subject to sales tax (as is the case with all dietary supplements). Psilocybin mushrooms intended for religious/spiritual or medical/therapeutic use would be exempt from sales tax.


What is the estimated fiscal impact of the Initiative?

The Legislative Analyst’s Office at the California Legislature has published a Fiscal Impact Estimate Report which discusses the effects of the initiative on state and local governments. The report is available at the website of the Office of the Attorney General.


Would I need to visit a dispensary to purchase psilocybin mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushroom sales would not be restricted to ‘dispensaries’ and could theoretically be sold by any licensed retail business in California. However, on a practical level, some businesses might be unwilling to sell psilocybin mushrooms due to the fact that psilocybin would remain a Schedule 1 controlled substance under Federal law and makes it extremely difficult to open a bank account let alone pay Federal taxes or transport the substance across state license or using the USPS.


Does the Initiative ensure that psilocybin mushrooms are clearly labelled?

Our initiative would ensure that all licensed psilocybin products would provide a quantified list of active ingredients, so that consumers can be fully aware of how much psilocybin they are ingesting.


Is the Initiative the “final word” on psilocybin decriminalization?

No. Even if the ballot measure is approved by voters, the California State Legislature will likely need to pass “implementation legislation” which elaborates on the specifics and logistics of implementing the Initiative. However, any legislation must be germane to the original intent of the Initiative.


Permitted Activities

Would the Initiative allow me to grow psilocybin mushrooms at home?

Yes. The Initiative would enable adults 21 years of age or older to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms for personal use within their own home and on private property.


Does the Initiative set a personal possession limit? How is personal possession defined?

There are over one hundred and eighty different species of psilocybin mushrooms, with each species containing varying levels of active compounds. Some species contain psilocybin at levels as high as 1.78% on a dry-weight basis, whereas other species contain psilocybin at levels as low as 0.16% on a dry-weight basis, an eleven-fold difference. 

Furthermore, on the basis of weight, dried mushrooms typically contain ten times as much psilocybin as fresh (wet) mushrooms, due to the reduction in moisture content which occurs through drying.

For these reasons, it would be impractical to define a weight-based limit on the quantity of mushrooms an individual could possess, and therefore the Initiative does not specify such a limit. Personal possession would be defined in a more nuanced way, taking into account the available evidence and the intent of the individual in question.


Would the Initiative allow me to give psilocybin mushrooms to my friends, family, etc.?

The Initiative would enable adults aged 21+ to give away mushrooms to other adults for free. Individuals may not exchange psilocybin mushrooms for money, goods, or services, as such a transaction would constitute a ‘sale’. Individuals wishing to sell psilocybin mushrooms would need to be licensed as a business by the State of California.


Federal Law

Does the initiative decriminalize psilocybin at the Federal level?

No. Psilocybin would continue to remain a controlled substance under Federal law, meaning that Federal agencies can continue to enforce laws prohibiting the possession, manufacture, distribution etc. of psilocybin in California. However, once a state starts to accept for example cannabis taxes they tend to protect the producers with some level of support by denying Federal agencies from coming in to raid them. It in essence creates a grey market known as quasi-legal.  Over the past few decades, despite multiple States passing laws which decriminalize and legalize cannabis, there remains no substantial change to Federal law. Similarly, it is unlikely that this initiative will result in any changes to Federal law pertaining to psilocybin in the immediate future.


Would the Initiative allow me to send psilocybin mushrooms through the mail?

It would remain illegal to send psilocybin mushrooms through the mail, even if sent within California, as the United States Postal Service is a Federal agency.


Would the Initiative allow me to take psilocybin mushrooms outside of California?

It would remain Federally illegal to transport psilocybin mushrooms across State lines and international borders.


Age Restriction

Does the initiative decriminalize the possession of psilocybin by minors?

No. The initiative only decriminalizes possession, cultivation etc. of psilocybin by adults aged 21+. However, the initiative reduces the penalty for those under age in possession of psilocybin; they would be required to complete a drug education program and no conviction would remain on their permanent record. It would remain illegal for adults to sell psilocybin to minors.


Why does the initiative define an adult as age 21 instead of age 18?

Originally the Initiative was consistent with California Health and Safety Codes, which define an adult as an individual aged 18+ but because we are going into a non-presidential election there will be an increase in conservative voters. 


About Psilocybin & Psilocybin Mushrooms

What forms of psilocybin and psilocin does the initiative decriminalize?

The Initiative decriminalizes psilocybin and psilocin in all its forms: all species of psilocybin mushrooms, their respective sclerotia (truffles), and extracts and derivatives thereof. Isolated/synthetic psilocybin and psilocin would also be decriminalized. 

Furthermore, the Initiative would decriminalize spores capable of producing psilocybin and psilocin, as California is currently one of only three States in which psilocybin mushroom spores are illegal to even be shipped to.

Baeocystin and nor-baeocystin, the two alkaloids related to psilocybin and psilocin, which occur naturally in psilocybin mushrooms are currently legal and do not require modifications to the law.


What is psilocybin? What is psilocin?

Psilocybin and psilocin are the two major psychoactive substances which naturally occur in psychedelic mushrooms (‘magic’ mushrooms). Psilocin is biologically active, whereas psilocybin is a psilocin prodrug, meaning that it is converted into psilocin when ingested via dephosphorylation.


What the hell is dephosphorylation?

Dephosphorylation is the removal of a phosphate group from an organic compound by hydrolysis. It is a reversible post-translational modification. Dephosphorylation and its counterpart, phosphorylation, activate and deactivate enzymes by detaching or attaching phosphoric esters and anhydrides.


What research has been conducted on psilocybin?

For information about the research conducted on the medical and therapeutic potential of psilocybin, visit our wiki research page.


What is a standard dose of psilocybin/psilocin?

The appropriate dosage of psilocybin can vary depending on the intended purpose. Listed below are a selection of psilocybin dosages used in clinical trials and the associated medical condition the dosage was aimed at treating:

  • 0.314 mg of psilocybin (oral, per kg of body weight) – Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial, Griffiths et al., Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2016.
  • 0.286-0.429 mg of psilocybin (oral, per kg of body weight) – Pilot Study of the 5-HT2AR Agonist Psilocybin in the Treatment of Tobacco Addiction, Johnson et al., Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2014.
  • 0.3-0.4 mg of psilocybin (oral, per kg of body weight) – Psilocybin-assisted treatment for alcohol dependence: A proof-of-concept study, Bogenschutz et al., Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2015.
  • 10-25 mg of psilocybin (oral, not proportional to body weight) – 1) Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study, Carhart-Harris et al., The Lancet, 2016, 2) Psilocybin with psychological support improves emotional face recognition in treatment-resistant depression, Stroud et al., Psychopharmacology, 2018, 3) Effects of psilocybin therapy on personality structure, Erritzoe et al., Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 2018.
  • 2 mg of psilocybin (intravenous, not proportional to body weight) – Implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: functional magnetic resonance imaging study with psilocybin, Carhart-Harris et al., British Journal of Psychiatry, 2012.

How can I find out about clinical trials involving psilocybin?

Visit ClinicalTrials.gov and search for ‘psilocybin’ to find ongoing and planned clinical trials involving psilocybin.


About Decriminalize California

Who is leading the initiative?

Decriminalize California is 1,400+ volunteer organization led by the Campaign Director Ryan Munevar and the Board.


Where is Decriminalize California headquartered?

Decriminalize California is based in Hollywood, however, the organization has teams across the state and volunteers in all 58 counties, with a significant presence in Los Angeles,  Orange County, San Diego, and San Francisco.

Is Decriminalize California affiliated with ‘Decriminalize Denver, Decriminalize Nature, or the Oregon Initiative’?

No. Decriminalize California is not formally affiliated with any of those organizations, however, some of Decriminalize California’s volunteers also volunteer with them on an individual basis.


How many signatures are required for the initiative to qualify?

Initiative Statute: Petitions proposing initiative statutes must be signed by registered voters.

The number of signatures must be equal to at least 5% of the total votes cast for the office of Governor at the last gubernatorial election. (Cal. Const., art. II, § 8(b); Elections Code § 9035.)

For the California 2020 election the total number of signatures required for the initiative statutes is 623,212.

Considering the intensity of the upcoming election there is going to be a considerable turn out and the requirement numbers for 2022 will go up.

In addition typically one third of signatures collected are invalid (due to the signatory not being registered to vote, providing the incorrect address, and/or providing an illegible signature), therefore Decriminalize California will need to buffer the count by collecting  an extra 50% of the total number of signatures required.


When and where can I sign your initiative?

Due to COVID-19 cases continuing to rise at an alarming rate we will not begin collecting signatures until after there is either a distributed cure, vaccine, and or herd immunity has kicked in. Rough estimates place the date for herd immunity in the United States put it in the middle to end of 2021 but nothing is for certain. 

 

Can I collect signatures for the Initiative?

Yes. We rely on volunteers to collect signatures. Individuals wishing to collect signatures for the Initiative must carefully read and abide by the official instructions set out by Decriminalize California. Individuals collecting signatures are REQUIRED by law to submit the Official Circulator Statement to Decriminalize California. Go to decrimusa.org/california_initiative to learn more. 


Does Decriminalize California sell psilocybin mushrooms?

Decriminalize California does not give away, sell, or facilitate the sale of controlled substances. Individuals and organizations affiliated with Decriminalize California are prohibited from the selling of controlled substances. It is prohibited to discuss the sale and purchase of controlled substances at Decriminalize California campaign events and through Decriminalize California’s online platforms.


Where can I buy psilocybin mushrooms?

Individuals wishing to access psilocybin legally must travel outside of the United States to a jurisdiction where psilocybin is legal. 

One currently legal route to accessing psilocybin within the United States is to be approved as a participant in a Federally-licensed clinical trial involving psilocybin, however such opportunities are relatively rare. Visit ClinicalTrials.gov and search for ‘psilocybin’ to find ongoing and planned clinical trials involving psilocybin.


About Our Approach

Is decriminalizing drugs an effective policy?

Yes. According to Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Guardian, since Portugal decriminalized the personal possession of all drugs in 2001, the drug-induced death rate is five times lower than the European Union average and one-fiftieth of the United States rate; the HIV infection rate decreased by ninety-five percent between 2000 and 2015; overall drug use declined; and drug-related crimes decreased; addiction is now treated as a disease and not a crime.


Is a citizens’ initiative the right approach to changing the law?

Supporting drug decriminalization, as a policy, can sometimes be viewed as risky by elected officials and those seeking election to higher public office; for this reason, it can be difficult and slow to implement drug decriminalization through traditional legislative bodies via lobbying. In contrast, a citizens’ initiative is a relatively fast and direct way to change the law, which, by definition, ensures popular support. Unfortunately, only 24 states and Washington D.C. allow for citizens initiatives, each with its own unique set of rules and challenges.


How is Decriminalize California’s approach different to other decriminalization efforts in Denver, Colorado, Oakland, California, and Oregon?

Decriminalization efforts in Denver and Oakland, led by other organizations, have designated the laws in their locale which prohibit the personal possession of either psilocybin mushrooms and or entheogenic plants as the lowest level priority for law enforcement; although such efforts are a step in the right direction, the laws prohibiting the personal possession of psilocybin mushrooms have not been repealed and theoretically police, sheriffs, district attorneys, and DEA could still enforce them as was the case with Kole Milner being arrested by the DEA in Denver, CO and has now been charged with dealing psychedelic mushrooms and is facing up to twenty years in prison and a $1 million fine. 

Man Accused of Selling Mushrooms Faces Up to Twenty Years – Westword July 25, 2020

Decriminalize California’s Initiative addresses personal cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transport, sales, consumption, taxes, and most importantly amnesty and expungement.


Will the psilocybin mushroom market become monopolized by large enterprises or excessively overcharged?

The Initiative would create a level-playing field in which for-profit and not-for-profit entities can coexist. By regulating psilocybin mushrooms as a standard agricultural product, and avoiding excessive taxation and licensing requirements, there would be no significant barriers to entry for small businesses and cooperatives (beyond the standard barriers to entry which would apply to any ordinary business).

The broad provisions within the Initiative ensure that a variety of economic actors can play a part in the legal psilocybin marketplace; pharmaceutical companies wishing to sell psilocybin for medical and therapeutic purposes, organizations wishing to provide psilocybin for spiritual and religious purposes, dietary supplement manufacturers wishing to market psilocybin microdose products, and individual adults wishing to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms within their own home, would not be prevented from doing so. Home cultivation being one of the primary factors that will keep the market price in check and ensure safe access to anyone.

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Disclaimer: the information on this page discusses hypothetical future changes to California state law following the approval of the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative. The information on this page is not legal advice. The information on this page is not medical advice. For questions regarding the current laws pertaining to psilocybin, consult an attorney.