Psilocybin therapy is prompting states to reconsider laws about magic mushrooms

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The Biden Administration is looking to explore the emerging research of psilocybin to treat a variety of mental health illnesses as states across the country have started to decriminalize and legalize the substances for medical uses. 

The administration anticipates the FDA to approve both MDMA and psilocybin as treatment for PTSD and depression within the next two years, and is “exploring the prospect of establishing a Federal Task Force” to monitor the drugs, according to a letter Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, sent to Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Penn.

States have moved forward updating the laws surrounding psilocybin on their own as they did with cannabis, but at a much quicker pace, said Beau Kilmer, the director of RAND Drug Policy Research Center. 

“About a dozen jurisdictions have made (legislation) changes just over the past couple of years, and this is a little bit different from what we saw in cannabis,” Kilmer told USA TODAY.

“You had a longer timeline with cannabis, and all of a sudden with psychedelics, you’re now seeing that timeline kind of compressed. A lot of this change has already happened just within the past couple of years,” he added. 

Here are the latest state efforts: 

California

  • A proposal to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its use for mental health treatment cleared California’s Senate chamber and began its advance through the California Assembly during the 2021 session before it was halted. The bill would have decriminalized psilocybin for those 21 and older and legalized psilocybin for medical treatments by qualified health professionals.
  • California activists looked to push a measure to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its use for mental health purposes through as a measure on the state’s November ballot. The measure failed to get the signatures necessary to make it onto this year’s ballot.

►Psilocybin therapy: Magic mushrooms can lead to long-term improvements in depression, study finds

Colorado

  • Following the footsteps of Denver, Colorado is looking to decriminalize psilocybin, legalize its use and begin to establish regulations around the manufacturing and purchasing of the substance through the state’s Initiative 58, otherwise known as the Natural Medicine Health Act. Coloradans will take up the initiative on their November ballots.
  • The measure stresses the benefits and uses psilocybin has for addressing mental health conditions. The initiative outlines the natural medicine access program, which will regulate the manufacturing, cultivation, testing, storage, transfer, transport, delivery, sale and purchase of the psilocybin products between healing centers and other authorized entities.
  • Denver was the first city to deprioritize enforcement of laws related to psilocybin after voters approved the ordinance in a 2019 vote.

►Fully fruited mushrooms: From NFL QB to farmer: Jake Plummer’s life-altering journey into the queendom of fungi

Connecticut

►Psilocybin therapy: People who used ‘magic mushrooms’ less likely to develop opioid use disorder, study finds

Oregon

  • Oregon was the first state to legalize access to psilocybin through Measure 109 in 2020. The bill legalizes the use and administration of psilocybin for mental health purposes and it details how to regulate, tax and sell the substance. The measure also established the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board and regulatory framework within the Oregon Health Authority.
  • The bill established a two-year development period where the Oregon Health Authority, alongside the advisory board, will determine the rules, training and licensing requirements. After the development period – set to begin in 2023 – the state’s health authority will begin to accept and issue licenses to manufacture psilocybin products and operate the centers.  

►Psychedelics: Aaron Rodgers credits ayahuasca for his recent MVPs: What is the psychedelic drug?

Washington

  • Washington lawmakers are working to push their bill to decriminalize psilocybin across the state, as Seattle already took that step in 2021, and to legalize the “supported adult use” of the substance. Psilocybin products would be distributed and administered by a licensed individual and at an authorized facility.
  • The proposed legislation aims to “improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of all people in this state, and to reduce the prevalence of behavioral health disorders among adults” through access to psilocybin.
  • If the legislation were to pass, it would establish an 18-month development period for the state to determine a comprehensive regulatory framework in manufacturing and distributing psilocybin products as well as ensure that those products are not distributed to unauthorized individuals, including those under 18, or between other states.

►Psychedelic therapy: The next big trend in mental health treatments? Psychedelic therapy.

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