In Hawaii, senators approved two identical measures to form a psilocybin working group, Marijuana Moment reported. The goal of the group would be to explore the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic, but the resolutions were amended and patient access will be contingent on federal approval of psilocybin. Both proposals —sponsored by Sen. Chris Lee (D), chair of the Judiciary Committee— advanced unanimously, although two senators expressed reservations. The non-binding Senate resolution and Senate concurrent resolution were taken up by the Senate Health Committee.
Earlier this month, the Hawaii Senate approved a binding bill that states the Department of Health must form a psilocybin task force. Even though it has been referred to several House committees, it has yet to be scheduled for hearings or votes in the chamber.
Current resolutions called on the working group to “develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the availability of therapeutic psilocybin or psilocybin-based products that are safe, accessible, and affordable for adults twenty-one years of age or older.” But that section was amended in the committee to make it so the FDA would first need to act before the state gives patients access to psilocybin.
Although the measures recognize that there are existing medicines, not all mental health conditions are treatable. Indeed, some studies have discovered “that psilocybin has shown efficacy, tolerability, and safety in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions, including addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress.” Even so, the clarifications in the proposals focus on the fact that “the availability of psilocybin should FDA approval be obtained for medical use,” said chairman Jarrett Keohokalole (D) ahead of the panel’s vote. “So it’s a hypothetical long-term strategic plan,” he added.
Taking into account that “Hawaii has a shortage of mental health professionals,” the measures call for the Therapeutic Psilocybin Working Group to study federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding psilocybin, as well as requirements, specifications and guidelines for a medical professional to prescribe and provide psilocybin to patients.
The body would be chaired by the head of the Health Department, which submitted written testimony against the resolutions: “The Department recognizes that there is a potential benefit of this substance and its impact on mental health; however, we are not there yet,” it said. “The studies that have been conducted to date have been small and very controlled. The studies have also paired psychotherapy with the use of this hallucinogen. Lastly, psilocybin is addictive and remains a Schedule 1 drug.”
Under these measures, a preliminary report with findings and recommendations within 20 days of the legislature’s 2023 session would be requested of the task force. A final report would be due shortly after the start of the 2024 legislative session. As of July 1, 2024, the group would be dissolved.
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