Psychedelics Reform Update: Alaska’s Task Force, West Virginia, Arizona’s Firefighters, New Jersey’ & More

State-level psychedelics policy reform is moving fast throughout the U.S. Here’s a recap from our previous update and as of Jan. 18, 2024:

California: After unanimously clearing the Assembly’s Health Committee on Jan. 9, AB 941 was re-referred to the Appropriations Committee, which on Jan. 18 it also unanimously passed. It is now moving to the chamber’s floor for consideration.

The bill creates a state workgroup to explore a therapeutic regulatory framework for psychedelic therapies. The provision of psychedelic-assisted therapies would become legal once (and if) the legislature enacts a regulatory framework for such treatments, as informed by the workgroup’s recommendations.

Meanwhile, Decriminalize California’s psilocybin legalization campaign won’t be on the 2024 ballot as activists didn’t gather enough signatures “for the third election cycle in a row,” reported Marijuana Moment. The initiative seeks to legalize possession, cultivation and sale of psilocybin for adults over 21 and requires a state-level therapeutic regulatory framework for health professionals to administer the psychedelic.

Indiana: On Jan. 17, following testimonies by researchers including Johns Hopkins’ Brandon Weiss, the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services unanimously passed psilocybin research bill SB 139. It has now been reassigned to the Appropriations Committee. 

It would become effective immediately upon passage, and officials would need to establish a process to administer the fund and process applications by July 1, detailed Marijuana Moment.

The proposal would establish a therapeutic psilocybin research fund to provide financial assistance for research institutions in Indiana to study psilocybin’s efficacy “to treat mental health and other medical conditions” as compared to other current treatment options. 

Alaska: companion bills SB 166 and HB 228 establishing a mental health and psychedelic medicine task force were introduced on Jan. 16, and referred to the Senate’s Labor and Commerce Committee and the House’s Health & Social Services Committee, respectively.

The task force’s purposes include assessing the potential use of psychedelic medicine in addressing the ongoing mental health crisis; consider barriers to implementation and equitable access; recommend licensing and insurance requirements for practitioners in the state “in the event that psychedelic medicines are federally reclassified and approved by the FDA,” and consider legal and regulatory pathways to the legalization of psychedelic medicines in the state, and the potential effects of the medicines on public health. 

Arizona: introduced on Jan. 16,  GOP-led HB 2274 creates a new Statutes section by which employers shall provide workers’ compensation coverage to firefighters and certified peace officers who have been diagnosed with PTSD “that includes a treatment protocol of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted therapy as prescribed by a healthcare provider.”

New York: HB 8349 establishing a psilocybin-assisted therapy pilot program for 10,000 veterans and first responders residing in the state’s western region was amended and resent to the Assembly’s Health Committee on Jan. 16. 

The program will provide the funding necessary for the mentioned population to receive the medical treatment, and promulgate “any necessary rules and regulations” for the funds’ application and distribution. 

Wisconsin: HB 753 creating a medicinal psilocybin treatment fund, and a pilot program to study the effects of medicinal psilocybin treatment on patients with post-traumatic stress syndrome at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and making an appropriation received its fiscal estimate on Jan. 12 (following companion bill SB 727 on Jan. 4.)   

Massachusetts: A joint chamber hearing will be held next Jan. 23 for 2023-introduced HB 4172, or “an Act honoring, empowering and recognizing our servicemembers and veterans.” 

Among other proposals, one subsection calls the secretary of veterans’ services to convene a working group to review alternative therapies for mental health treatments for veterans and opportunely issue recommendations for the provision of psychedelic therapy (psilocybin, ketamine and MDMA.)

West Virginia: HB 4473 aims to remove certain controlled substances from Schedule I of the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act, including marihuana, psilocybin and tetrahydrocannabinols. The bill was introduced on Jan. 10, and referred to the House’s Health and Human Resources Committee, after which it would move to the Judiciary.

Washington: cross-filed with SB5977, HB 2281 adds a new section to the state’s “limited legalization” of psilocybin services, stating that “it is not a violation of state or local law for a nonprofit organization to purchase, receive, possess, cultivate, deliver or dispose of psilocybin or psilocybin mushrooms, or for a participant to possess or consume psilocybin.”

The nonprofit “must have an explicit goal of promoting wellness for and assisting military veterans or first responders,” and facilitate psilocybin services “using the set and setting method of experiencing psychedelic substances” as provided by facilitators licensed by Oregon or another state with a state facilitator license and licensure requirements. The bill was referred to the House’s Health Care & Wellness Committee on Jan. 10.

New Jersey: introduced on Jan. 9 following similar proposals that have failed to progress within the state’s legislature, SB 2283 relaunches the call to legalize production and use of psilocybin to promote health and wellness. 

The “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act” decriminalizes and expunges past offenses involving psilocybin production, possession, use and distribution. Since its latest introduction in the Senate, it has been referred to the chamber’s Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Virginia: prefiled on Jan. 9 and assigned to Health’s Subcommittee on Education and Health, SB 229 would establish an Advisory Council on Breakthrough Therapies for Veteran Suicide Prevention.

The council will advise the state’s Health Commissioner on “the regulations and infrastructure necessary to support clinical access to and provider training for the use of rapid-acting therapies that have been granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder (MDD,) or treatment-resistant depression and whose active ingredients are currently controlled under Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act” (such as MDMA and psilocybin.) 

Oregon: House Republicans launched a proposal to re-criminalize drug possession while Democratic counterparts consider a measure allowing misdemeanors for drug possession though with comparably smaller potential penalties, both throwing voter-approved Measure 110 overboard, reported the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

See also analysis on the state’s “erupted fight” by The New Yorker.

Connecticut: HB 5102 allowing medicinal and therapeutic use of psilocybin “including, but not limited to, the provision of physical, mental or behavioral health care” was introduced on Jan. 9 in the state’s House and referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health.

According to his office, the Governor would hold ‘concerns’ for psilocybin decriminalization as lawmakers seem divided on the proposal, informed Marijuana Moment.

See Also: Ypsilanti Becomes Michigan’s Fifth City To Decriminalize Psychedelics Via Local Resolution

Photo: Benzinga edit with photo by Alexander_Volkov and canbedone on Shutterstock.

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