California activists on Wednesday announced that they have come up short on collecting enough signatures to qualify a measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for the state’s November ballot, though they aren’t giving up on a future election cycle bid.
Decriminalize California was first cleared by the state’s attorney general’s office to begin signature gathering in September, giving them 180 days to collect 623,212 valid signatures from registered voters. On an all-volunteer basis, the group collected about 46 percent of those signatures, but that was pre-validation, meaning a significant portion would likely have been deemed invalid for one reason or another.
“We were doing great there collecting and then in mid-December just about everyone of our core volunteers got COVID and most of the events we were scheduled at either closed, postponed or had an extremely weak turnout,” campaign manager Ryan Munevar said in an e-mail blast to supporters.
“This half-open half-closed society we have been in living in has certainly hampered the process of collecting signatures so we have decided to take a few months off to recoup and then focus on raising money for a paid signature drive” for a future effort, he added.
Munevar laid out some next steps for the campaign, saying they will be fundraising in the coming months to determine whether it’s feasible to start collecting signatures for a new reform initiative in either June or October 2023 to make the November 2024 ballot.
Under the proposal, titled the California Psilocybin Initiative, the “personal, medical, therapeutic, religious, spiritual, and dietary use of psilocybin mushrooms” would have been legalized for adults 21 and older. Further, the initiative would have allowed for the cultivation, retail sale, social sharing and on-site consumption of the psychedelic.
While the measure would have legalized psilocybin sales under state law, the attorney general’s title and summary used the word “decriminalize,” a term that some advocates view as more palatable to people who might not necessarily be inclined to support a commercial model for the psychedelic.
“For individuals 21 and over, decriminalizes under state law the cultivation, manufacture, processing, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, and retail sale of psilocybin mushrooms, the hallucinogenic chemical compounds contained in them, and edible products and extracts derived from psilocybin mushrooms,” the summary said.
Munevar previously told Marijuana Moment that the campaign had a team of 2,800 people who’d volunteered to assist in the signature collection process for this year’s ballot. And those collectors were working in cities across California as recently as this month.
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