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Maryland Committees Take Up Psychedelics And Drug Decriminalization Task Force Bills



Maryland House committees have taken up a pair of bills to create task forces to study psychedelics legalization and broad drug decriminalization.

The House Health and Government Operations Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to consider the psychedelics legislation, while the Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday to discuss the drug decriminalization proposal.

The psychedelics bill from Del. Pam Guzzone (D) as introduced would establish a “Task Force on Responsible Use of Natural Psychedelic Substances” under the state Department of Health. But the sponsor said that, after consultation with the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA), that agency would oversee the task force under an amendment she’s moving to adopt.

Members would study and make specific recommendations about the best path forward to legalize and regulate psilocybin, DMT and mescaline that is not derived from natural peyote.

“I’ve often thought that I’m not the person who would immediately come to mind as someone who would be introducing this bill. After all, I’m a pretty straight-laced suburban woman with with graying hair and reading glasses and no significant health concerns,” Guzzone said at the hearing. “But here I am asking you for a favorable report on a bill to establish a task force on the responsible use of natural psychedelics.”

“The reason for a task force, first and foremost: Treatments using psychedelic substances are expected to be approved, for example, for treatment-resistant PTSD by the FDA before the end of this calendar year,” she said. “Thus, thinking about the what, who, when and how needs to start sooner rather than later.”

As originally drafted, task force recommendations for psychedelics regulations would have been related to “growing natural psychedelic substances in accordance with agricultural safety standards,” “systems to support statewide online sales of natural psychedelic substances with home delivery” and “testing and packaging requirements for products containing natural psychedelic substances with clear and accurate labeling of potency.”

However, Guzzone said at Wednesday’s hearing that she’s seeking to further amend the bill to “remove a fair amount of the prescriptive language” in order to give the task force “a little bit more latitude in what they consider within the key areas identified within the bill.” The size of the membership would also be reduced under the sponsor’s revision.

One of the more unique features of the current bill that the lawmaker said her amendment removes would have explicitly required the task force to make recommendations “for the sale and taxation of natural psychedelic substances.”

“It is time for us to move psychedelics out of the shadows and add it to the to the toolbox of treatment for thousands who are suffering with conditions that can be so debilitating that they can’t work, that families break down and medical expenses become overwhelming,” Guzzone said. “This task force is the first step in that process.”

There’s also a companion version of the psychedelics measure that’s been introduced in the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing next month.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 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, over in the House Judiciary Committee, members considered a separate proposal from Del. Sheila Ruth (D) that would create a “Task Force to Study the Use and Possession of De Minimis Quantities of Controlled Dangerous Substances.”

The 37-member group of experts and appointees of the governor, legislative leaders  and various state agencies would be tasked with studying and recommending “types of controlled dangerous substances and de minimis quantity amounts that should be eligible for a civil citation for use or possession.”

It would also have to make recommendations on “alternatives to criminal justice intervention” for cases involving possession about the proposed decriminalized amounts.

The task force would need to submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature by October 1, 2025.

Ruth, the bill sponsor, said during Tuesday’s hearing that she drafted the legislation to account for concerns that committee members “rightfully” had about a measure she introduced last session that would have directly decriminalized low-level drug possession.

“This session, I’m back with a task force that will look at some of these very questions because we do need to make sure we’re doing this right if we’re going to do it and to be able to answer those questions,” she said.

Thomas Higdon, co-chair of the Maryland Coalition on Drug Use, Treatment, and Recovery, also testified at the hearing, where he talked about his personal drug recovery journey and echoed points in support of the legislation that he made in an op-ed published ahead of the meeting.

Meanwhile, in other drug policy news in Maryland, the Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that’s meant to protect gun rights for medical marijuana patients under state law, sending it to the House of Delegates.

A Senate committee also recently took up legislation that would let police search vehicles based on the smell of cannabis.

GOP Congressman Files Bill Directing VA To Update Lawmakers About Psychedelic Medicine Access For Veterans

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