The New Jersey State legislature moved a step closer to downgrading the penalty for possessing psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, after the state Assembly and Senate voted in favour of the bill on December 17.
New Jersey lawmakers approved both the marijuana and psilocybin bills which were presented separately in both legislative chambers. The bills will be presented to the desk of Governor Phil Murphy (D) for his signatures.
The psilocybin bill passed in the Assembly with 51-22 votes while six abstained, and in Senate by 22-15 votes with three abstentions.
The bill, introduced by Assemblyman James J. Kennedy, reclassifies possession of psilocybin as a disorderly persons offence. This would allow adults age 21 and over in the State of New Jersey to possess up to an ounce of magic mushrooms, or psilocybin while downgrading charges for possession from a felony conviction of three to five years to a maximum of six months.
Possession of any amount of psilocybin, a Schedule I substance, is a third-degree felony under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Assemblyman Kennedy shared with Truffle in an interview earlier that a separate bill to downgrade charges on psilocybin was needed because the punishment does not fit the crime in the existing law, and the attempt to introduce both legislative acts simultaneously caused confusion among state lawmakers and the public.
The clause to reclassify psilocybin was added to the earlier marijuana bill in a surprise move in November. The initiative to legalize marijuana in New Jersey has been in progress since 2014. While the last-minute addition to the marijuana bill was approved in the Senate, it was stalled in the Assembly.
On December 1, Assemblyman Kennedy introduced the current legislation, separating the downgrading of the penalty for possession of magic mushrooms from the two bills concerning marijuana. All are set to define different legal aspects of psilocybin and marijuana in the state.
Ritika is a Toronto-based reporter. She writes about drug policies and developments in psychedelics.