Connect with us


Maine Lawmakers Approve Bill To Create Psychedelics Commission To Explore Regulated Access After Amending Legalization Proposal



Maine lawmakers have advanced an amended bill to establish a commission tasked with studying and making recommendations on regulating access to psychedelic services.

Members of the legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, who met in January to discuss the measure, passed it as revised in a 9-2 vote last week. The legislation was significantly watered down, as it initially would have legalized psilocybin, allowing adults to access the psychedelic at licensed facilities.

But the committee has opted to create a “Commission To Study Pathways For Creating a Psilocybin Services Program in Maine” to further explore the reform instead—a disappointment for advocates who pushed to provide people with legal access sooner.

The 13-member panel would consist of legislative appointees, health experts, a military veteran, academics and people with experience in psychedelics policy.

It would be responsible for reviewing “medical, psychological and scientific studies, research and other information on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating behavioral health conditions,” as well as how other states have approached regulating psychedelics access.

Sen. Donna Bailey (D), sponsor of the legislation, filed a similar version of the psilocybin access proposal in 2022 that passed the Senate but stalled out in the House.

Under the newly amended bill, the commission would also need to lay out the steps that Maine would need to take to establish its own regulatory framework for psychedelic substances, “including but not limited to psilocybin.”

Further, it’s being asked to develop a “long-term strategic plan for ensuring that psilocybin services will become and remain a safe, accessible, and affordable therapeutic option for all persons who are 21 years of age or older and for whom psilocybin services may be appropriate.”

Finally, members would need to “advise and make recommendations to the legislature regarding a legal framework for the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs.” The commission would be authorized to meet six times and would be mandated to deliver its report to the legislature by November 6, 2024.

Rep. David Boyer (R), a vocal supporter of drug policy reform, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview on Monday that the amended legislation still “represents progress, but it wasn’t as much as myself and others would have hoped for, with the evidence that was brought to our committee of how psilocybin can help lots of different people for lots of different reasons.”

“My Republican colleagues were not ready to vote for it, it seemed like, and then even Democrats on the committee, as well, did not want to vote for it,” said the lawmaker, who prior to being elected worked as an activist with the Marijuana Policy Project and led a successful ballot initiative campaign to legalize marijuana in Maine in 2016.

“Hopefully, they do good work and we have a little bit more of a starting place” in the next session, he said of the prospective commission.

Facing time constraints and uncertainty over how the governor would have approached the bill as drafted, lawmakers did consider alternative amendments before landing on the commission language. For example, there was talk of removing provisions from the initial legislation that would have allowed for personal possession outside of the regulated program. But that “seemed to cause more problems than solutions,” Boyer said.

The GOP legislator personally advocated for keeping the low-level possession reforms intact, arguing that it is necessary to ensure equitable access, particularly for low- and middle-income individuals who might not be able to afford the facilitated services.

The next step for the psychedelics commission bill will be consideration in the full Senate, followed by the House. Boyer said he was optimistic about its prospects and expects Gov. Janet Mills (D) would either sign it or allow it to become law without her signature.

He also floated the possibility of a citizen-led initiative to put psychedelics reform on a future ballot.

“I’m sure that people would sign the petition. And I think they would pass it if we were to bring it to them,” he said.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 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.

Meanwhile, the Maine legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing in January to discuss a bill to decriminalize possession of currently illicit drugs and invest in expanded treatment resources, taking emotional testimony from supporters. But there’s opposition from the Democratic governor and top Senate Republican, calling into question its pathway to enactment.

A Senate committee also rejected a bill in January that would have fully removed marijuana from the state’s criminal code, including a repeal of mandatory minimum sentences for certain activities involving unlawful amounts of cannabis. It also would have required automatic expungements of prior marijuana convictions.

At the same time, Maine’s legal cannabis market has seen record-breaking sales in recent months, and the governor signed into law a bill last year to provide tax relief for the state marijuana industry.

Read the text of the Maine psychedelics commission amendment below:

Another Vermont Senate Panel Approves Psychedelic Study Group Bill, With Floor Vote Expected Soon

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

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


Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.