Hawaii Legislators Introduce First Steps To Legalize Psilocybin, Magic Mushrooms

Two members of the Hawaii Legislature introduced a set of resolutions aimed at studying the medicinal applications of psilocybin in order to develop a plan that ensures the availability of the compound for adult patients in the state. 

Psilocybin is a psychedelic derived from some species of fungi usually referred to as “magic mushrooms”. The island state joins a growing number of U.S. jurisdictions working on legislation for the safe access of medicinal psilocybin for psychiatric use, which includes Oregon, California and Colorado.

A Need For Alternative Methods Of Psychiatric Treatment 

The resolutions mention a shortage of mental health professionals in the Aloha State, which call for a need to explore novel, innovative and safe solutions for psychological and psychiatric treatment.

Rep. Christopher Lee, a democrat and one of the resolution’s promoters, said in a conversation with Benzinga that psilocybin could become a possible alternative to opioids and other forms of established psychiatric treatments.

“This could be one of the ways that we try to replace something which is more harmful with something which is less, and give people a better opportunity for better outcomes.”

Based on the fact that the FDA has determined that psilocybin could be a better form of treatment than other available drugs and therapies for major depressive disorder and severe treatment-resistant depression, the resolutions call to action in that regard.

Arguments in the proposal include the fact that psilocybin is a naturally-occurring compound and that recognized medical institutions indicate its efficacy, tolerability, and safety in the treatment of addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress. The FDA’s determination of psilocybin as a possible  alternative to opioid treatment is also mentioned in the text. 

A Medicinal Psilocybin Working Group

Lee and Sen. Les Ihara Jr. introduced the resolutions to the House and Senate respectively on March 6. SR 196, SCR 241, HR 176 and HCR 195, all of which carry almost identical texts, request the State’s Department of Health to convene a Medicinal Psilocybin Working Group. 

The purpose of the group is to examine federal, state, and local laws and regulations for psilocybin, to review medical, psychological, and scientific research; and to analyze guidelines for medical professionals to prescribe the compound.

“I think we have a reasonable and rational set of leaders here in Hawaii, who just want to see the best outcomes for local residents,” said Lee. Although the Legislature is currently suspended for indefinite time due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he believes most of the political sector in the state approve of the idea of creating a task force of experts to advise policymakers in regards to this particular issue.

Once formed, the group is requested to develop a long-term strategic plan that guarantees the availability of psilocybin or psilocybin-based products to adults over 21, along with a proposed piece of legislation that must be submitted before the convening of the 2022 Regular Session.

According to the resolution, the group must be composed of medical experts and industry actors, as well as the Attorney General, the Director of Health, the Dean of Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and representatives from the House and Senate.

According to Lee, efforts at this stage are being placed on demonstrating the value of this treatment from a scientific perspective. The introduction of these therapies to the health care continuum and the development of a local industry or viable supply chain will be met after there’s proof of tangible benefit for patients.

Image courtesy of Los Cocos

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