Massachusetts activists have submitted two initiatives to legalize certain psychedelics and establish licensed facilities for supervised services. The initiatives would remove criminal penalties for low-level possession of five entheogenic plants and fungi while creating a licensing system for psychedelic service centers. One of the initiatives would allow adults 21 and older to cultivate their psychedelics. The campaign is backed by New Approach PAC, which has supported similar reform efforts in other states. Massachusetts has seen a local psychedelics movement, with six cities across the state already decriminalizing natural plants and fungi. The initiatives also aim to address the mental health crisis in Massachusetts by providing alternative therapies. The measures will go before voters on the state’s 2024 ballot if the approximately 74,500 valid signatures from registered voters are collected.
MASTERCARD DECLINES CANNABIS
Mastercard has instructed financial institutions to stop allowing marijuana transactions on its debit cards. This move deals a blow to the cannabis industry, which is already on the fringes of the financial system in the United States. Despite several states legalizing the medicinal and recreational uses of marijuana, it remains illegal at the federal level. As a result, most banks in the country do not service cannabis companies. Mastercard’s spokesperson stated that the purchases of cannabis are not allowed on their systems due to the federal government considering cannabis sales illegal. Industry executives expressed disappointment with the decision, seeing it as another obstacle for the state-legal cannabis industry and its consumers. The cannabis industry has advocated for reforms like the SAFE Banking Act to make banking services easier. However, Senator John Cornyn of Texas recently expressed skepticism about the prospects of passing such legislation.
Colorado Senator Reintroduces Legalization Bill
In other news regarding cannabis and federal legality, Senator and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently reintroduced the PREPARE Act. This bill aims to lay the groundwork for federal regulation of cannabis in the United States. The PREPARE Act proposes the establishment of a federal commission, inspired by Colorado’s regulatory commission, that would advise the government on the proper safeguards for federal cannabis legalization. The commission’s responsibilities would include advising on a federal regulatory framework based on state cannabis regulations, considering potential regulations similar to those for alcohol. It would also address the disproportionate impact of cannabis prohibition on minority, low-income, and veteran communities. The PREPARE Act has received broad support from various stakeholders, including advocacy groups and industry associations.
BY THE NUMBERS
Seven American cities made a recent list of global cities that consume the most cannabis annually, based on metric tons, including the No. 1 spot:
62.3 METRIC TONS 1. New York City 35 3. Los Angeles 24.9 4. Chicago 18.5 6. Houston 11.4 12. Phoenix 10.6 15. Philadelphia 6.8 20. Denver SOURCE: CFAH’s 2023 Cannabis Price Index.