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Psychedelics Advocates, Opponents React To “Stolen Valor” Revelations

And one lawmaker decries deception but vows to “continue to work with grassroots advocates, veterans, mental health professionals, addiction specialists and a growing coalition of supporters”

A feature published last week by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and Talking Joints Memo has spurred many in the Massachusetts psychedelics community to speak up about fissures in the grassroots movement pushing for plant medicine.

The article was the latest reporting by journalist Jack Gorsline revealing duplicitous behavior by James Davis, who runs the advocacy org Bay Staters for Natural Medicine. The piece details apparent attempts by the movement leader to conduct the business of an affiliated group, New England Veterans for Plant Medicine, without input from actual veterans.

The controversy comes during an already contentious leadup to Election Day, when Bay State voters will decide on the Massachusetts Regulated Access to Psychedelic Substances Initiative. Davis and Bay Staters now oppose the referendum, and have teamed up with drug prohibition groups to attack it.

With people picking sides and actively campaigning for or against the November measure, Gorsline’s story about NEVPM, Davis, and “stolen valor” has led to some fierce responses from the activist community on social media and comments from one state lawmaker so far.

There have been reactions from the anti-psychedelics side as well. A group formed to oppose the referendum, the so-called Coalition for Safe Communities, previously publicly aligned with Bay Staters, but a spokesperson now says, “James Davis has absolutely no affiliation with our organization in any way.”

The office of state Rep. Nicholas Boldyga, who worked with Davis on psychedelics initiatives before, also released a statement: “The allegations against Mr. Davis are alarming, and if true, disturbing. As a former police officer, among the many compelling reasons that Representative Boldyga supports the legalization of natural plant medicines, are the countless number of lives they have saved. Particularly within the veteran and first responder community.”

Boldyga’s office continued: “Accusations of fraud and stolen valor are serious matters that should be referred to the appropriate authorities. Representative Boldyga condemns the alleged actions of Mr. Davis. However, the representative will continue to work with grassroots advocates, veterans, mental health professionals, addiction specialists and a growing coalition of supporters throughout Massachusetts to help make natural plant medicines accessible to those that would benefit from their healing potential.”

Neither Davis nor a Bay Staters spokesperson responded to multiple requests for comments for Gorsline’s last three articles about the inner workings of the group.