A newly introduced bill in Maine would legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the primary psychoactive component of psychedelic mushrooms, and establish a licensed industry around the drug.
The Maine Psilocybin Services Act, introduced by state Sen. Donna Bailey (D), would allow adults 21 and older to legally purchase psilocybin products from retailers and consume them under supervision of a licensed “psilocybin service facilitators.”
While the measure is intended to expand access to psilocybin to help treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders, no specific medical diagnosis would be required of adults to access psilocybin therapy.
“In finding ways to help people with depression, anxiety and other similar debilitating disorders, why shouldn’t we be able to use any and all available treatments, as long as they are safe and regulated?” Bailey told Marijuana Moment. “I look forward to working with the [Health and Human Service] Committee and interested parties to pass this bill.”
The proposal closely resembles how Oregon regulates psilocybin for therapeutic use following state voters’ passage of a legalization ballot measure last November. In fact, a provision in the new Maine bill specifically directs state agencies to develop recommendations “to otherwise make this Act as consistent as possible in substance to the laws governing psilocybin in Oregon.”
As introduced this week, the bill would issue licenses to businesses to legally produce and sell the drug. The state would tax psilocybin products at 15 percent of the retail sales price.
The state Department of Health and Human Services would be responsible for setting up basic rules around psilocybin therapy itself, such as personal possession limits, product testing and requirements for psilocybin service providers, who would be present when people consume the drug.
To help guide the department, the bill would also establish a state psilocybin advisory board, consisting of experts and state officials, to advise and make recommendations.
A separate bill in Maine, introduced by lead sponsor Rep. Anne Perry (D), would decriminalize all currently illegal drugs in the state. Rather than see criminal charges and jail time, people caught in possession of controlled substances would be subject to a $100 civil fine. The fine could be waived if a person were to undergo a health assessment, however, which could involve a further referral to treatment for substance use disorder.
The all-drugs decriminalization bill is scheduled for a committee hearing on Friday.
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Bailey, the sponsor of the psilocybin measure, told Marijuana Moment in an email that she introduced her psilocybin legislation at the request of a constituent who is a doctor and would like to be able to legally use the drug to treat patients with anxiety, depression and other disorders. Production and sale of psilocybin would not be permitted under the separate decriminalization bill.
Bailey noted that her bill was modeled after Oregon’s voter-passed psilocybin therapy initiative, as well as psilocybin bills introduced this year in Florida and Hawaii.
In Hawaii, an initial bill to legalize psilocybin for medical purposes was introduced in January, but it stalled in committee. Separate resolutions that recently passed the Senate call on state officials to set up a special working group to study psilocybin laws and research with an eye toward legalization.
The group “is requested to develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the availability of medicinal psilocybin and psilocin or psilocybin-based and psilocin-based products that are safe, accessible, and affordable for adults twenty-one years of age or older,” the resolution says. A report from the group would be due 20 days before the start of next year’s legislative session.
In Florida, a pair of lawmakers in January introduced another proposal inspired by Oregon’s initiative. The Florida bill would establish a legal psilocybin model for therapeutic use in the state as well as deprioritize criminal enforcement against a wide range of other psychedelic plants and fungi. Lawmakers have taken no action on that measure, however, since early March.
In Connecticut, meanwhile, lawmakers proposed creating task force that would study the medical benefits of psilocybin, but that bill has not moved since it was introduced in January.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi