Psychedelics Legislation: Here's The Latest On Hawaii, Virginia, Missouri And More

Hawaii To Create A Psilocybin Working Group For Therapeutic Use

Out of the six psychedelic regulations filed in the state during 2023, SB 1454 is the only one that's approved for the time being.

The new measure calls for the creation of the Therapeutic Psilocybin Working Group, which would study psychedelics' medicinal and therapeutic effects for anxiety, depression and PTSD, as well as a long-term strategic plan for safe, affordable and available access to psilocybin or psilocybin-based products for adults over 21.

The bill passed unanimously on Feb. 6 after the health and human services committee held a public hearing with testimonies from veterans, drug policy reform advocates, mental health practitioners and state agency representatives.

Lawmakers did recommend amendments to the original bill, including that the new working group be led by a governor’s Office of Wellness and Resiliency (OWR) representative instead of the Department of Health director, and that a placeholder be named for the appropriation of funds supporting the group’s activities.

The measure won support from Democratic Governor Josh Green’s office.

Meanwhile, SB I531 will have its next public hearing on Feb. 10. The measure aims to establish an advisory board to review, evaluate and recommend new mental health treatments including not only psilocybin but also MDMA. 

All four remaining bills have been referred to committees. 

Virginia Delegates To Decide On Psilocybin Rescheduling

The state’s full Senate approved SB 932 with 25 votes in favor and 15 against. The new measure would establish a statewide psilocybin advisory board and reschedule the psychedelic under state law.

While psilocybin therapy wouldn't be legal right away, the new advisory council would develop a long-term, strategic plan to establish therapeutic access to psilocybin services and monitor and study federal laws, regulations, and policies regarding psilocybin.

New York Considers Psychedelics Reform

The state's fourth psychedelics proposal for the 2023 session calls for the legalization of medical psilocybin with a certified facilitator at a controlled setting.

It would also establish a grant program for veterans, first responders, retired first responders and low-income individuals to receive treatment with psilocybin or MDMA. It has been at the Senate’s Finance committee since Jan. 31.

Also, New York lawmakers filed bills calling for psychedelics descheduling and legalization (A00114, on Health committee since Jan. 4) and psilocybin and MDMA-assisted therapy pilot programs (the revised A8569A, still in committee), plus a more recent Senate bill towards decriminalization of possession of personal amounts of drugs and creating a task force for other potential harm reduction reforms (S2340, referred to Codes committee on Jan. 20).

Other State Bills

  • West Virginia: A bill that would remove psilocybin, marijuana and THC from Schedule I under the state’s controlled substances list has been referred to the House Health and Human Resources committee on Jan. 24.
  • New Hampshire: The first bill to legalize the possession and use of psilocybin, mescaline, peyote and LSD for adults over 21 and reduce penalties for LSD manufacturing, sales and possession for people under 21 is still at the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee as of Jan. 5. A second bill calls for the exemption of DMT from the state’s controlled substances list and is currently at the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee, where an executive session is set to be held on Feb. 10. On both measures, lawmakers will have until March 16 to decide.
  • Missouri: A bill legalizing psilocybin-assisted therapy for qualifying patients with a physician’s recommendation and expanding treatment access to adults over 21 once psilocybin is federally rescheduled has been taken off the House calendar after a second time read on Jan. 19, no hearings scheduled.
  • Massachusetts: Companion bills — HD 1450 and SD 949 — are both active in the current 2023 session. The goal is to decriminalize psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for adults over 18. There's also a harm reduction-focused proposal bill amending the state statute by replacing criminal penalties for drug possession with a health and needs screening test.
  • Illinois: CURE Act creating a state-regulated psychedelic-assisted therapy program for adults over 18 plus decriminalizing psilocybin possession is pending in the state’s House Rules committee after referral on Jan. 12.
  • Washington: Bipartisan effort for legal psychedelics therapy for citizens 21 and older is the Psilocybin Services Wellness and Opportunity Act, which aims to improve general physical, mental and social well-being and also help treat behavioral health disorders. The bill, which holds a social opportunity program towards including low-income communities, military veterans and indigenous people, is currently at the Labor & Commerce committee, where a public hearing was held on Jan. 30.
  • Connecticut: A bill requesting legal psilocybin for therapeutic or medicinal purposes “including, but not limited to, the provision of physical, mental or behavioral health care” is at the joint committee on Public Health since Jan. 9.
  • Arizona: A bi-partisan bill promoting psilocybin research with grants for up to $30 million for clinical trials on whole mushroom psilocybin’s effects on 13 different mental health conditions has been read for a second time on Jan. 23 and was finally assigned to the MAPS committee on Feb. 1.
  • California: newest attempt to decriminalize possession and personal use of certain psychedelics, led by Sen. Scott Wiener and including only naturally-occurring psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline (not derived from Peyote cacti) was introduced on Dec. 16, 2022, had its first reading on Jan. 4, 2023, and is currently at the committee on Public Safety since Jan. 18.

Photo: Benzinga edit with photo by Cburnett on Wikimedia Commons and Octavio Hoyos on Shutterstock.

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