Will Massachusetts Become the Third State to Pass a Psychedelics Ballot Initiative?

David M. Ullian is a Partner in the Boston Office of Vicente LLP, a law firm that worked closely with the campaign to pass the Natural Medicine Health Act in Colorado and is actively involved in psychedelics policy reform around the country. The firm is currently working to get a state-regulated psychedelics initiative on the ballot in Massachusetts this November.

Ullian recently talked about the current state of the campaign, the similarities and differences the proposal has with psychedelic programs in Oregon and Colorado, and the likelihood it would be approved by Massachusetts voters if it makes the ballot this year.



The psychedelics regulated-access program that’s being proposed in Massachusetts is more like Colorado’s program than Oregon’s, correct?

Yes, the psychedelics program proposed in Massachusetts is more like the program in Colorado. There are two main components to the Massachusetts initiative: one component creates a regulated treatment center program where licensed facilitators can provide therapy sessions; the other component involves limited decriminalization for personal use. No retail sales are permitted, so we will not see any dispensaries lawfully selling mushrooms or other psychedelic substances under this measure. The Massachusetts proposal also covers the same four natural psychedelic substances that are covered in Colorado’s Natural Health Medicine Act: psilocybin / psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and non-peyote mescaline. It won’t be exactly the same as Colorado’s, but it’s very similar.


Will it allow gifting of psychedelics?

Yes. There is a gifting component that allows personal use amounts to be given away to a person who is at least 21. However, the Massachusetts psychedelics initiative specifically prohibits gifting from being advertised or promoted to the public or as part of any other commercial activity. This serves to prevent the gifting loophole that we have seen with cannabis in certain states, where some retail “gifting” stores provide “free” cannabis product to a customer who makes a monetary donation or purchases an item like a pencil or sticker for a small amount of money, essentially establishing an unregulated retail market. The main objective of the gifting provision is to create a lawful mechanism for community healing.


How’s the campaign going — and are there any competing proposals out there?

At this point, the campaign needs to collect approximately 12,000 more voter signatures by July 3rd to ensure the initiative is on the ballot this November, which I expect will be done easily. Beyond the campaign, there are other groups who support access to psychedelics but have different proposals and priorities in terms of how regulated it should be. Some groups oppose the creation of a new state agency tasked with creating a regulated system for treatment centers, like in Oregon, as opposed to focusing solely on decriminalization and personal use without any kind of governmental body involved. There are also stakeholders who are concerned about how expensive the treatments are. High costs are always a legitimate concern, but the ultimate goal is to set up a system that enables a wide range of responsible adults to access and benefit from regulated, tested natural medicines.


How strong is the opposition to the proposal?

As with all ballot initiatives, there is some loud opposition to the Massachusetts proposal. Some groups prefer an initiative that is more liberal and involves less regulation. Other groups oppose any type of drug policy reform. Some stakeholders have concerns about whether this all turns into a recreational dispensary-type of industry, which is not the intent at all, or it just becomes a Wild West of drugs being overproduced and falling into the wrong hands. It’s a lot of the same types of arguments we’ve heard about cannabis over the years. This ballot question in Massachusetts was intentionally crafted to balance competing priorities and concerns to enable adults 21+ to access these beneficial medicines in a safe and responsible manner.


If the FDA approves MDMA this summer, what impact do you think that will have on voters’ minds?

I think it will make some voters more open to the idea that alternative, non-traditional substances can really have a positive impact on mental health, including for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. This will hopefully help grow support for the proposal.


As far as keeping costs down, what can Massachusetts do that Oregon hasn’t?

The amount and complexity of regulations is a major factor contributing to high costs. That’s a common criticism of the cannabis industry in certain states: if the industry is highly regulated by the agency charged with implementing the program, more resources are necessary to maintain compliance, and consequently, the higher the costs are going to be.

Supply is a big factor in reducing costs. It’s important to have enough licensed producers and testing labs to ensure an adequate supply to meet demand.

The Massachusetts ballot initiative also allows multiple participants to access psychedelic services at the same time in group administration sessions, which will be more cost-effective than a model in which only individualized therapy sessions are permitted.

The Massachusetts proposal also strives to reduce licensing fees to keep costs down, including a sliding scale for licensing fees based on volume of business or gross revenue to benefit smaller businesses. In addition, the initiative provides for reduced fees for licensure and facilitator training programs, as well as financial support in the form of grants and loans, for certain groups of applicants to promote equity and inclusion in the natural psychedelic services industry.

Finally, a factor that has contributed to high costs in the cannabis industry is the role of local municipalities. Under the Massachusetts ballot question, cities and towns can impose their own regulatory requirements as well as a local sales tax of up to 2%. In Oregon, local taxes and fees are prohibited.

We are proposing a regulated-access model, and it’s important to make sure that the program doesn’t have a negative financial impact on the state. So I understand there needs to be a certain degree of taxation and regulation, but we just need to be smart and reasonable about it so we can increase access for as many people in need as possible.


Psychedelics are already decriminalized in eight jurisdictions in Massachusetts. Do you think the existing gray market will undermine the success of a state-regulated program?

I’m always concerned about the potential for a gray or illicit market to undermine a state-regulated program, especially where there is uncertainty about where and how the products are being produced and consumed. If a person has no real idea where a substance or product actually comes from, and if no products are tested, there’s an increased chance that public health and safety will be negatively impacted. That’s always the case with substances like psychedelics and cannabis, but we need to recognize these medicines have enormous value for certain people when used responsibly, and we need to set up a system in which people can readily and affordably access tested, regulated products. It’s very difficult to completely and permanently eliminate a gray market for products that people want, and realistically, that will always be the case. We hope that by creating a legal market for psychedelic healing, we can reduce some of the harms related to untested substances, create safer and more inclusive access, and prevent potential harm caused by bad actors.


This could be on the ballot in 6 months. If so, would you like to make a prediction now whether it would pass?

Yes, I think it would pass. Massachusetts is one of the most progressive states in the country, and there is a lot of support for psychedelics policy reform, as evidenced by the growing number of municipalities that have adopted decriminalization policies, including large municipalities in the Greater Boston area like Cambridge and Somerville. Compared to other states, Massachusetts has been very tolerant and open to allowing different types of activities and medicines that can really help people. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see, but I am cautiously optimistic, especially as voters become more informed about psychedelics and their benefits for a wide variety of people.


If a measure were to pass this November, the program itself would likely begin in January 2026. Have you been working with any clients looking to open psychedelic businesses or nonprofits, or is it way too early for that?

Some clients have expressed interest, but we haven’t had many clients in Massachusetts starting to make real efforts yet. The proposal hasn’t been confirmed to be on the ballot in November, so it’s still pretty early. That said, I do believe a lot of people are interested in exploring various opportunities that will be available once the program is implemented. And as we get closer and it becomes more of a reality, we’ll start to see more interest.