Psychedelics Reform Update: Congress, California, Kentucky Opioids, Oregon, Nevada And More

At the federal level, lawmakers are seeking to advance several drug policy changes as part of the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, including the rescheduling of MDMA and psilocybin plus additional research into these and other psychedelics as potential treatments for conditions such as PTSD and TBI.

The FDA recently published a set of draft guidelines for the delivery of clinical trials assessing psychedelics’ therapeutic effects together with a public docket open for comments.

As for states reform update, here’s what happened from June to July 10, 2023:

  • California: The Assembly’s public health committee amended and passed SB 58 decriminalizing certain amounts of “natural” psychedelics on June 27, with amendments. The bill was read and re-referred to the chamber’s health committee on June 29. A hearing is scheduled for July 11. 

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Scott Wiener said the measure’s referral to the health committee means it will face challenges. “The path for this bill has always been narrow and remains narrow, but we do have a path,” he told Marijuana Moment.

Meanwhile, AB 1021 legalizing Schedule I controlled substances for “legitimate medical purposes” was also re-referred to the appropriations committee were it was read for a second time and ordered a third reading on July 5. 

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At a local level, Berkeley’s City Council is set to vote on a resolution decriminalizing possession, cultivation, processing and preparation of plant or fungus biosynthesized psychedelics for personal use on July 11. The measure is based on a 2022 proposal approved by the city’s community health commission, reported Marijuana Moment.

  • Kentucky: The latest state’s Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission (KYOAAC) virtual meeting revealed consensus issues around the recently-launched plan to fund research on ibogaine to treat opioid addiction, first reported Psychedelic Spotlight. 

The commission decided to hold two public hearings, on July 17 and August 16, to discuss if the program should be funded and to consider other alternatives.

  • OregonSB 303 requesting an effective date for psilocybin service centers and facilitators to collect and report data on clients, adverse events and related information, signed by Senate president and House speaker, was signed and made into law by Gov. Tina Kotek on June 6. 
  • NevadaSB 242 creating a psychedelics working group toward state-regulated access for medic, therapeutic and wellness purposes was finally approved and made effective by Gov. Joe Lombardo on June 12. 
  • Rhode Island: Original HB 5923 amending state law to legalize possession of less than one ounce of psilocybin and residential cultivation was substituted with a new version passed the House on June 12.

The amended bill would remove criminal penalties for possession and cultivation for personal use and sharing among adults as well as prepare the state for regulated therapeutic access to the psychedelic once and if federal reform is achieved, now adding a sunset clause of July 1, 2025. 

Meanwhile, companion bill S 0806 faced a hearing at that same Senate committee on June 1, where legislators recommended the measure be held for further study before voting. 

  • Massachusetts: The legislature’s joint judiciary committee held a hybrid public hearing on June 13 around H3589H1754 and S1009 calling for the legalization of certain natural psychedelic plants and fungi including psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, mescaline and ibogaine for adults -the former, for people over 21 and the two former, for people over 18 years old.

On July 3, two Boston political strategists filed paperwork for new voter-ballot initiative campaign “Massachusetts for Mental Health Options” (see Mason Marks’ analysis.)

  • Connecticut: Psilocybin advocates within a coalition created a statement opposing HB 6734, which would decriminalize possession of up to 14 grams of dried psychedelic mushrooms but instead replacing penalties with a $150 fine, reported Psychedelic Spotlight. 

The coalition is against the legislation and all similar bills coming forward because of increased policing and because “they create revenue streams for cities and states.”  

  • Maine: Legislators in both House and Senate have requested that May-tabled LD1914 calling for the enactment of a new “Maine Psilocybin Health Access Act” be carried over to the next regular session on June 1. 

Interest in psychedelics for the treatment of mental health conditions has recently spiked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where “a small but growing industry of clinicians” are using ketamine therapy in coexistence with underground trip sitters, while a group of therapists and advocates joined the Philadose conference last November, as reported by The Inquirer.

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