The Colorado House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would align state statute to legalize MDMA prescriptions if and when the federal government ultimately permits such use, sending it to the Senate.
The bipartisan and bicameral legislation—sponsored by Reps. Patrick Neville (R) and David Ortiz (D), along with Sens. John Cooke (R) and Joann Ginal (D)—passed third and final reading on the floor in a 53-2 vote last week. That action came just days after the bill was amended and approved by the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee.
Unfortunately for advocates, that panel also rejected separate legislation to create a psychedelics review panel to study substances like psilocybin and DMT and issue recommendations on possible policy changes.
The MDMA legislation approved by the House, meanwhile, would legalize “prescribing, dispensing, transporting, possessing, and using” MDMA if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the substance as a prescription drug.
While the floor vote on final passage didn’t include debate of the proposal, there was some brief discussion one day earlier when the bill was considered on second reading in the chamber.
Neville, one of the bill sponsors, said that MDMA has “been proven to be extremely, extremely effective in treatment of PTSD.” And so he wants to ensure that Colorado is prepared to provide that treatment option pending a federal policy change.
“The medication, what it truly does—and I can speak to this personally having gone through therapy for PTSD—is the medication is truly just a catalyst for the therapy to work because it opens the person up to actually explain about their circumstances,” he said.
There were some technical amendments that had been adopted in committee, as well as one change to the language of the findings section of the bill. It now says that MDMA is “highly effective if paired with talk therapy and counseling” and notes that “it is widely expected that the federal Food and Drug Administration will approve MDMA-assisted therapy for prescription use for PTSD as soon as 2023.”
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The Senate Health & Human Services Committee is now scheduled to take up the psychedelics legislation on April 25.
Activists in Colorado might feel encouraged to see the modest reform measure advancing, but not everyone is waiting around for the legislature to act. There are two campaigns seeking to place psilocybin legalization on the state’s November ballot.
The psychedelics reform movement has spread rapidly throughout state legislatures this session.
For example, Maryland lawmakers sent a bill to the governor last week that would create a state fund to provide “cost-free” access to psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.
Also this month, Georgia lawmakers advanced a bipartisan resolution that calls for the formation of a House study committee to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and make recommendations for reforms.
The governor of Utah last month signed a bill to create a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use.
A Missouri House committee also held a hearing last month on a GOP-led bill to legalize a wide range of psychedelics for therapeutic use at designated care facilities while further decriminalizing low-level possession in general.
Connecticut lawmakers are also taking interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, with a legislative committee passing a bill last month that would provide certain patients with access to psychedelic-assisted treatment with substances like MDMA and psilocybin.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed a separate bill last year that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. A workgroup has since been meeting to investigate the issue.
The Washington State legislature recently sent a budget bill to the governor’s desk that includes a proposal to direct $200,000 in funding to support a new workgroup to study the possibility of legalizing psilocybin services in the state, including the idea of using current marijuana regulatory systems to track psychedelic mushrooms.
Last month, the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to set up a state working group to study the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin mushrooms and develop a “long-term” plan to ensure that the psychedelic is accessible for medical use for adults 21 and older.
Also last month, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill to decriminalize low-level possession of psilocybin and promote research into the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.
Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a pair of drug decriminalization bills last month—including one focused on psilocybin and buprenorphine that would authorize doctors to prescribe the psychedelic mushroom.
An Oregon Senate committee also recently advanced a bill to ensure that equity is built into the state’s historic therapeutic psilocybin program that’s actively being implemented following voter approval in 2020.
A bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel in January, only to be pushed off until 2023. A separate Senate proposal to decriminalize psilocybin alone was later defeated in a key committee.
California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize psychedelics possession stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session.
Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation in January that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older.
Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania bill meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for certain mental health conditions may be in jeopardy, with the sponsor saying that the chair of a key House committee is expressing reservations even after the legislation was amended in an effort to build support.
New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs.
Legislation was also enacted by the Texas legislature last year requiring the state to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center.
At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in January, urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.
Photo courtesy of Pretty Drugthings on Unsplash.