The California Psilocybin Initiative 2022 Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Initiative do?
The California Psilocybin Initiative 2022 (hereafter, the “Initiative”) would regulate the personal, medical, therapeutic, dietary, spiritual, and religious use of psilocybin by adults aged 21+ in the State of California.
Who wrote the Initiative?
The current version of the Initiative is the result of a collaborative and open-source drafting process that has allowed for continuous improvement and refinement over time. Attorneys, scientists, medical professionals, mycologists, and researchers from across the world, as well as members of the public from all walks of life, have contributed to the Initiative. The legal text submitted to the State is version 4.6.
Does the Initiative regulate the sale of psilocybin?
The Initiative would create a legal framework within which retail sales of psilocybin would be regulated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health.
Would retail sales of psilocybin be taxed?
Retail sales of psilocybin would not be subject to an excise tax, but certain types of psilocybin products packaged for retail sale would be subject to the 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, in order to incentivize consumers to purchase from regulated, licensed retailers. Under the Initiative, psilocybin mushrooms would be regulated as a foodstuff, the same as ordinary agriculturally-produced mushrooms, and therefore may be subject to local sales tax, depending on the form in which the mushrooms are sold. For example, a dietary supplement containing psilocybin mushrooms would likely be subject to sales tax (as is the case with most ordinary dietary supplements). Psilocybin intended for religious/spiritual or medical/therapeutic use, or sold as a raw agricultural product, would be exempt from sales tax.
What is the estimated fiscal impact of the Initiative?
The Legislative Analyst’s Office at the California Legislature will soon publish a Fiscal Impact Estimate Report which discusses the effects of the Initiative on State and local governments. The Fiscal Impact Estimate Report published for the previous 2020 Initiative is not an accurate estimate of the impact of the current 2022 Initiative, as the language of the current Initiative differs significantly from the previous Initiative. The report will be made available at the website of the Office of the Attorney General.
Would I need to visit a dispensary to purchase psilocybin?
Retail sales of psilocybin would not be limited to specialized stores – so-called “dispensaries”. Psilocybin could be sold by any licensed retail business in California. However, on a practical level, some businesses might be unwilling to sell psilocybin due to the fact that psilocybin would remain a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, which can create issues relating to banking and Federal taxes.
Does the Initiative ensure that psilocybin is clearly labeled?
The Initiative would require that all psilocybin products packaged for retail sale provide a quantified list of psychoactive components so that consumers are fully aware of how much psilocybin they are ingesting. The Initiative requires that a product list psilocybin content in a) milligrams per package, b) milligrams per serving and c) as a percentage.
All psilocybin products packaged for retail sale would be subject to the same requirements as ordinary foods and dietary supplements, such as requirements to include a Nutrition Facts or Supplement Facts panel, net weight in metric and US customary units, expiration date, batch number, etc. Products must also be labeled with a QR code that links to a webpage where further information can be provided, such as a Certificate of Analysis, etc. All psilocybin products packaged for retail sale would also be required to bear a warning statement and bear the Universal Psilocybin Symbol, above.
If the ballot measure passes, when can sales begin?
Provisions relating to personal possession and cultivation would become law from the instant that the vote total is certified. Commercial cultivation would commence on January 1st, 2023. Retail sales would commence on April 19th, 2023 (Bicycle Day). These dates are explicitly defined in the Initiative legal text.
Is the Initiative the “final word” on psilocybin regulation in California?
No. Even if the ballot measure is approved by voters, the California State Legislature will likely need to pass implementation legislation, colloquially known as a “clean-up bill” which elaborates on the specifics and logistics of implementing the Initiative. However, any legislation must be germane to the original intent of the Initiative, and the Initiative specifies that its provisions must be “liberally-construed”.
Would the Initiative allow me to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms at home?
Yes. The Initiative would enable adults aged 21+ to cultivate an unlimited quantity of psilocybin mushrooms for personal use within their own home, and on private property more broadly.
Does the Initiative set a personal possession limit?
There are over 180 different species of psilocybin mushrooms, with each species containing varying levels of psychoactive components. 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. Moreover, 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 that occurs through drying. For these reasons, it would be impractical to define a weight-based limit on the amount of psilocybin mushrooms an individual could possess, and therefore the Initiative does not specify such a limit. Furthermore, the Initiative prohibits the State from defining a dose or serving of psilocybin and prohibits the State from limiting the psilocybin content of a product packaged for retail sale. Manufacturers would be free to independently define their own dose or serving size. These provisions ensure that psilocybin products packaged for retail sale do not fall prey to restrictions similar to those applied to cannabis products, which are arbitrarily limited to 100 mg of psychoactive components per package.
Would the Initiative allow me to give psilocybin to my friends, family, etc.?
The Initiative would enable adults aged 21+ to give away psilocybin to other adults aged 21+ for free. Individuals would not be permitted to exchange psilocybin for money, goods, or services, as such a transaction would constitute a “sale”. Individuals wishing to sell psilocybin would simply need to obtain the same licenses required of any ordinary business in the State of California, namely a Seller’s Permit. These individuals would also need to pay any applicable sales taxes and abide by any relevant regulations, such as those pertaining to Health and Safety, Labor, Fire, etc., which would apply to any ordinary business.
Does the initiative regulate psilocybin at the Federal level?
No. Psilocybin would continue to remain a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, meaning that Federal agencies can continue to enforce Federal laws prohibiting psilocybin in California. Over the past few decades, despite multiple States passing laws that regulate 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. However, the Initiative does contain provisions that prohibit the State of California from providing information to or otherwise assisting, an investigation by the Federal government.
Would the Initiative allow me to send psilocybin mushrooms through the mail?
It would remain illegal to mail psilocybin, even if mailed internally within California, as the United States Postal Service is an agency of the Federal government.
Would the Initiative allow me to transport psilocybin outside of California?
It would remain illegal to transport psilocybin across State lines and international borders.
Does the Initiative prohibit the possession of psilocybin by minors?
The Initiative regulates the use of psilocybin by adults aged 21+. However, the Initiative contains provisions whereby a medical professional may recommend psilocybin for use in minors for the treatment of specific and appropriate medical conditions. The Initiative reduces the penalty for minors, and adults aged 18-20, in possession of psilocybin without parental consent; these individuals would be required to complete a drug education program and no conviction would remain on their record. It would remain illegal for adults to sell or otherwise furnish psilocybin to minors.
Why does the initiative define an adult as aged 21+ instead of aged 18+?
During the drafting process, the Initiative was originally consistent with the California Health and Safety Code, which defines an adult as an individual aged 18+, however, the decision to raise the minimum age to 21 was made as a compromise to make the Initiative more palatable to conservative voters.
What forms of psilocybin does the initiative regulate?
The Initiative regulates psilocybin in all its forms: all species of psilocybin mushrooms, their respective sclerotia (truffles), mycelia, and extracts and derivatives thereof. Isolated psilocybin, whether naturally derived or synthetically produced, is also regulated. Furthermore, the Initiative would regulate spores capable of producing psilocybin mushrooms, as California is currently one of only three states in which psilocybin mushroom spores are currently illegal.
What is psilocybin? What is psilocin?
Psilocybin and psilocin are the two major naturally occurring psychoactive components in “psychedelic” mushrooms (colloquially known as “magic” mushrooms). Psilocin is orally active, whereas psilocybin is a psilocin prodrug, meaning that it is converted into psilocin when ingested, via a process known as dephosphorylation. The Initiative regulates psilocybin and psilocin, as well as baeocystin and norbaeocystin, two naturally-occurring non-controlled phosphorylated analogs of psilocybin, in addition to all other isomers and analogs of psilocybin.
What research has been conducted on psilocybin?
Psilocybin has been the subject of numerous studies and clinical trials. A large body of research, dating back as far as the 1940s, indicates that psilocybin is physiologically benign. For information about the research conducted on the medical and therapeutic potential of psilocybin, visit the Decriminalize California website.
What is a standard dose of psilocybin?
The appropriate dosage of psilocybin can vary depending on the intended purpose. Listed below are a selection of psilocybin dosages used in past clinical trials and the associated medical condition the dosage was aimed at treating:
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.
Who is leading the Initiative?
Decriminalize California, a 2,500+ volunteer-strong organization led by Campaign Director Ryan Munevar and the Organization’s Board. The named Proponent of the Initiative is Ryan Munevar.
Where is Decriminalize California headquartered?
Decriminalize California is based in Hollywood, however, the organization has teams across California and volunteers in all 58 counties, with a significant presence in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and San Francisco Counties.
Is this the same as the Initiative attempted in 2020?
Decriminalize California attempted to pass a similar initiative in 2020, known as the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative 2020. Decriminalize California collected a significant proportion of the number of signatures required to qualify the initiative for the ballot. However, legal restrictions imposed in early 2020 by Governor Gavin Newsom made it effectively illegal for the campaign to continue collecting signatures, a severe infringement on the Right of Initiative enshrined in the Constitution of California. Decriminalize California and other statewide initiative campaigns collectively sought legal recourse, to no avail.
The current version of the Initiative mainly differs in the following ways:
Is Decriminalize California affiliated with ‘Decriminalize Denver, Decriminalize Nature, or Oregon’s Measure 109?
No. Decriminalize California is not formally affiliated with any of these organizations, however, some of Decriminalize California’s volunteers may also volunteer with these organizations on an individual basis.
How many signatures are required for the initiative to qualify for the ballot?
Petitions proposing initiative statutes must be signed by voters registered in the State of California. The number of valid signatures required must be equal to at least 5% of the total votes cast for the office of Governor at the last gubernatorial election. Therefore, for the California 2022 election, the total number of valid signatures required for Initiative statutes is 623,212. However, 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 account for this by collecting an extra 50% of the total number of signatures required.
When and where can I sign your Initiative?
California law requires that signatures be made in ink and on paper; online signatures are not currently permitted. When the campaign is legally cleared to start collecting signatures, visit the campaign’s website or social media channels for a list and interactive map of signing locations and signing events. Decriminalize California also plans to provide an option whereby a prospective signatory can request to receive a petition via mail, which can be signed at home and returned using an included prepaid return envelope.
Can I collect signatures for the Initiative?
Yes. We rely on volunteers to collect signatures. When the campaign is legally cleared to start collecting signatures, visit the campaign’s website or social media channels for further information. Collecting signatures is not difficult, but the process is governed by several regulations and requires attention to detail; errors in the collection process can invalidate an otherwise lawful signature. Therefore, individuals authorized to collect signatures for the Initiative must carefully read and abide by the official instructions set out by Decriminalize California. Please note that individuals collecting signatures are REQUIRED by law to submit a signed Official Circulator Statement to Decriminalize California and are PROHIBITED by law from withholding valid signatures from Decriminalize California.
Does Decriminalize California sell psilocybin mushrooms?
No. Decriminalize California does not give away, sell, or facilitate the sale of any controlled substances. Individuals and organizations affiliated with Decriminalize California are prohibited from giving away, selling, or facilitating the sale of any controlled substances. It is prohibited to discuss the sale and purchase of any controlled substances at Decriminalize California campaign events and through Decriminalize California’s online platforms.
Where can I obtain 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.
Is a citizens’ initiative the right approach to changing the law?
Supporting drug policy reform, as a policy, can sometimes be viewed as risky by elected officials and those seeking election to public office; for this reason, it can be difficult and slow to implement drug policy reform 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 the District of Columbia allow for citizens’ initiatives, each with their own unique set of rules and challenges.
How is Decriminalize California’s approach different from other drug policy reform efforts in Denver, Oakland, and Oregon?
Drug policy reform efforts in the Cities of Denver, Oakland, and others, as well as in the State of Oregon, led by other organizations, have designated the enforcement of laws that prohibit the personal possession of either psilocybin 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 have not been repealed and theoretically, Police Departments, County Sheriff’s Departments, State Police, district attorneys, and, at the Federal level, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), can still enforce these laws. In contrast, the Initiative would remove psilocybin from California’s schedule of controlled substances altogether, providing far stronger protections against arrest and detention.
Will the psilocybin market become monopolized by large enterprises? Will psilocybin be extortionately priced?
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. Anticipated widespread home cultivation is one of the primary factors that will keep the market price in check and ensure safe access for everyone.
How much would it cost to cultivate psilocybin mushrooms at home?
Decriminalize California’s own analysis estimates that the cost to produce one pound of dried mushrooms at home would be approximately $7-11 USD. There are 454 grams in one pound and a “heroic” dose of psilocybin mushrooms is 5 grams; therefore, there are approximately 90 “heroic” doses in one pound, and a “heroic” dose would cost 11.1 cents.
Disclaimer: the aforementioned information discusses hypothetical future changes to California State law following the approval of the California Psilocybin Initiative 2022. The aforementioned information is not legal advice. The aforementioned information is not medical advice. For questions regarding the current laws pertaining to psilocybin, consult an attorney.