A proposed ballot measure to legalize psilocybin in California would save the state millions in enforcement costs and also generate state and local tax revenue, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) recently concluded.
However, the officials also tempered expectations by pointing out that setting up the regulatory scheme for a legal psilocybin market could initially cost millions. But that could “eventually be partially or fully offset by fee revenue.”
Most of the LAO report, which was published on Wednesday, outlines the main provisions of Decriminalize California’s psychedelics reform measure, which activists hope to place before voters on the November 2022 ballot.
It would be a historic policy change, making California the first in the nation to broadly legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical and recreational purposes. Oregon voters approved a first-of-its-kind initiative last year to legalize the entheogen for therapeutic use alone.
Decriminalize California’s measure—titled the California Psilocybin Initiative—would legalize the “personal, medical, therapeutic, religious, spiritual, and dietary use of Psilocybin Mushrooms” for adults 21 and older. Further, the initiative would allow for the cultivation, retail sale, social sharing and on-site consumption of the psychedelic.
LAO said the measure “would reduce ongoing costs to the state and local governments by reducing the number of people convicted of psilocybin offenses incarcerated in state prison and county jail, as well as the number placed under community supervision (such as county probation).”
“In addition, the measure would result in a reduction in state and local costs for the enforcement of psilocybin-related offenses and the handling of related criminal cases in the state court system,” it said. “In total, the reduction in costs would likely not exceed a few million dollars annually.”
The office also pointed out that any money saved in enforcing the current criminalization of mushrooms “would likely be redirected to other law enforcement, corrections, and court activities.”
Initiative Analysis: Psilocybin legalization. https://t.co/gCFpOSDhNu
— Legislative Analyst (@LAO_CA) September 1, 2021
LAO further said that the costs of implementation depend on at least three factors: “(1) the specific regulatory structure that the state ultimately implements pursuant to the measure, (2) the extent to which the federal government exercises its discretion to enforce federal prohibitions on psilocybin-related activities, and (3) how people and businesses respond to these two factors.”
“Accordingly, costs could range from minimal to tens of millions of dollars annually. These regulatory costs could eventually be partially or fully offset by fee revenue,” the analysis says. “To the extent that fee revenues are not sufficient to fully support such costs, some of the costs could require support from other fund sources (such as the…