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Arizona’s Democratic Governor Vetoes Bill To Legalize Psilocybin Service Centers



The Democratic governor of Arizona has vetoed a bill to legalize psilocybin service centers where people could receive the psychedelic in a medically supervised setting.

Less than a week after lawmakers gave final approval to the legislation, Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) rejected it on Tuesday, arguing that while the psychedelic may hold therapeutic potential, “we do not yet have the evidence needed to support widespread clinical expansion.”

“Arizonans with depression and PTSD deserve access to treatments that may be seen as outside the mainstream, but they should not be the subject of experiments for unproven therapies with a lack of appropriate guardrails,” the governor said in a veto message.

She also said that the bill’s estimated cost is $400,000 per year, which wasn’t accounted for in the budget.

Under the now-vetoed legislation, the Department of Human Services (DHS) would have been authorized to license psilocybin-assisted therapy centers in the state, where trained facilitators could have administered the psychedelic.

The measure would have significantly expanded on Arizona’s existing research-focused psychedelics law that provides $5 million in annual funding to support studies into psilocybin therapy.

Hobbs cited that research funding in her statement, saying the goal is to “ensure that those who seek psilocybin treatment are doing so confidently and safely under proper supervision of qualified professionals with documented and verified research to support the treatment.”

She said that money “will be allowed to continue with this year’s budget,” with a separate funding bill she signed into law on Tuesday protecting those dollars, which are exempt from lapsing appropriations provisions.

The vetoed proposal, meanwhile, would have established an Arizona Psilocybin Advisory Board, comprised of members appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. Representatives of the attorney general’s office and DHS, as well as military veterans, first responders, scientists with experience with psilocybin and physicians would have been among the members.

The board would have been responsible for establishing training criteria for psilocybin service center staff, making recommendations on the implementation of the law, and studying the science and policy developments related to psychedelics.

Sen. T. J. Shope (R), the bill’s sponsor, told The Center Square that the veto is a “disappointing result after months of hard work and the overwhelming bipartisan support this received in both houses of the Legislature this year.”

The senator added that if lawmakers were still in session, he’d be pushing for a vote to override the veto, but he’ll have to “settle for trying again next year.”

“I won’t stop fighting for our veterans and first responders to get the mental health care they deserve in these clinical settings,” he said. “Sadly, Arizonans will now have to continue leaving their own state and country to receive this type of treatment. It’s truly a sad day for those who have put everything on the line for us.”

The governor’s veto is reminiscent of a similar setback for advocates in California last year, with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoing a bill to legalize certain psychedelics.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

In any case, there are multiple states where lawmakers have been working to promote research into psychedelics amid growing public interest in expanding therapeutic access and ending criminalization.

California lawmakers have separately revised a psilocybin pilot program bill to narrow eligibility criteria for participants and facilitators who could administer the psychedelic under the proposal.

A New Jersey Assembly committee also recently adopted an amendment to a psilocybin bill that aligns its provisions with a Senate companion version, removing language to more broadly legalize the psychedelic and instead focusing on therapeutic use.

Last week the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill focused focused on military veterans that includes provisions to create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA.

Last month, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a bill into law to create a psychedelic-assisted therapy working group that will make recommendations on whether and how the state should regulate legal access to substances such as psilocybin and MDMA.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed legislation last month to create a psychedelics task force responsible for studying possible regulatory frameworks for therapeutic access to substances such as psilocybin, mescaline and DMT. It would be charged specifically with ensuring “broad, equitable and affordable access to psychedelic substances” in the state.

Last month in Alaska lawmakers sent the governor a bill to create a state task force to study how to license and regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy in the event of federal approval of substances such as MDMA and psilocybin.

Indiana’s governor recently signed a bill that includes provisions to fund clinical research trials into psilocybin.

Utah’s governor, meanwhile, allowed a bill to authorize a pilot program for hospitals to administer psilocybin and MDMA as an alternative treatment option to become law without his signature.

Maine lawmakers sent the governor legislation to establish a commission tasked with studying and making recommendations on regulating access to psychedelic services.

A Connecticut joint legislative panel approved a bill to decriminalize possession of psilocybin.

The governor of New Mexico has endorsed a newly enacted resolution requesting that state officials research the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and explore the creation of a regulatory framework to provide access to the psychedelic.

An Illinois committee also recently held a hearing to discuss a bill to legalize psilocybin and allow regulated access at service centers in the state where adults could use the psychedelic in a supervised setting—with plans to expand the program to include mescaline, ibogaine and DMT.

Lawmakers in Hawaii also considered a bill that would provide some legal protections to patients engaging in psilocybin-assisted therapy with a medical professional’s approval.

New York lawmakers said that a bill to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in that state has a “real chance” of passing this year.

A Nevada joint legislative committee held a hearing with expert and public testimony on the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin in January. Law enforcement representatives also shared their concerns around legalization—but there was notable acknowledgement that some reforms should be enacted, including possible rescheduling.

New Hampshire Lawmakers And Advocates Blame Each Other Over Marijuana Legalization Bill’s Defeat

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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