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Massachusetts voters could decide to legalize "magic mushrooms" on 2024 ballot

Massachusetts voters could soon decide to legalize psychedelic mushrooms
Massachusetts voters could soon decide to legalize psychedelic mushrooms 00:18

BOSTON - Voters in Massachusetts could soon decide whether to legalize "magic mushrooms." Supporters of the psychedelic treatment said this week they've turned in enough signatures to allow for a ballot question in 2024.

If approved, people struggling with anxiety, depression and PTSD will be able to try treatments using the mushrooms, also called psilocybin. 

Petitions for statewide ballot questions had to be filed by Wednesday with at least 74,000 signatures from registered voters. The Massachusetts for Mental Health Options campaign said they were submitting more than 95,000 signatures for certification. 

The secretary of state's office said it will take weeks to verify the signatures. Other campaigns vying for a place on the ballot include a push to audit the Legislature, MCAS graduation requirements, unionization options for ride-share drivers, a voter ID law and a minimum wage for tipped workers.

Do magic mushrooms work?

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms and has shown some process in treating depression.

In 2020, a study of cancer patients who received psilocybin found that they experienced reduced anxiety and hopelessness more than four years after receiving the dose in combination with psychotherapy. 

More recently, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute began a small trial to see if giving magic mushrooms to hospice care patients who aren't expected to live more than six months can help them cope with dying more easily. Initial results found that some patients discovered a "renewed sense of purpose" and made a "deeper connection with loved ones."

Is psilocybin legal in other states?

This year, America's first licensed psilocybin service center opened in Oregon. It had a waitlist of more than 3,000 people with conditions like depression and PTSD. 

Colorado voters passed a law in 2022 allowing regulated use of magic mushrooms starting next year. The California Legislature passed a bill this fall that would have decriminalized several hallucinogens including psychedelic mushrooms, but it was vetoed by the governor. 

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