Could Florida Become a Leader in Promoting Psilocybin Assisted Therapy?

Last November, Oregon voters approved an initiative to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy, joining pockets around the U.S. that had taken similar strides, but now Florida may be the unexpected dark horse coming up in the psychedelics movement.

With the main goal to promote psilocybin as a mental health treatment, Florida’s Rep. Michael Grieco (D) filed an ambitious and aggressive legislation on Thursday, which would establish a legal model for therapeutic psilocybin use in the state. The bill states that psilocybin, the psychoactive component in what people call “magic mushrooms,” has “shown efficacy, tolerability, and safety in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions, including, but not limited to, addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress.” The bill notes that Florida has “one of the highest prevalence rates of mental illness among adults in the nation”and poses psilocybin as a means to “improve the physical, mental, and social well being of all people in the state.”

The bill states that one in five Floridians live with mental health issues and also points to the significant budget set aside for treating opioid addiction in the state. 

In a Press Release, Grieco said, “the conversation needs to start somewhere, and I am ready to work with both my Republican and Democrat colleagues to create a framework designed to help those patients who need it.” If approved, Florida’s 59-pageproposed bill will be named “Florida’s Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act.” Florida’s Department of Health will have regulations for licensed facilities and physicians to provide psilocybin therapy to adults age 21 and over in a clinical setting. The bill defines psilocybin services as: “services provided to a client before, during, or after the client’s consumption of a psilocybin product, including a preparation session, administration session, and an integration session.”

In addition, Grieco’s bill takes enforcement against those possessing psychedelic plants and fungi off the priorities of law enforcement in these states. The bill says it will focus on making “the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older engaged in noncommercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi one of its lowest enforcement priorities.” This movement towards decriminalization also includes other entheogenic substanceslike ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, or psilocin, as it occurs naturally in any form.

In the press release, Grieco quipped, “Florida does not have to be the last state to catch up with science every time. Between medical marijuana and climate change, our state seems to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The science regarding psilocybin is real, cannot be ignored, and soon will be a universally-accepted form of treatment in the U.S.”

This week, Rep. Josh Elliot (D) of Connecticut also sponsored a bill to work with four other legislators to create a task force responsible for studying the medicinal benefits of psilocybin.

Florida, Connecticut, and Oregon are the first three states to propose measures or bills state-wide towards thedecriminalization of psychedelics. Last year, Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin, while cities like Santa Cruz and Oakland in California and Ann Arbor in Michigan have significantly loosened any laws against plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics, making enforcement against them a very low priority.

If approved, Florida’s Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act will take effect July 1, 2021.

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