Missouri Republican lawmakers have pre-filed a pair of bills to legalize the medical use of psilocybin and require clinical trials exploring the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.
Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder (R) and Rep. Aaron McMullen (R) introduced similar versions of the legislation for the 2024 session, setting the stage for further consideration of psychedelics reform in the Show-Me State.
Under both proposals, adults 21 or older who are diagnosed with a qualifying condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance misuse disorder could legally access laboratory-tested psilocybin. They also would need to be enrolled, or sought enrollment, in a Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) clinical trial involving the psychedelic.
The Senate version mirrors a separate House bill that advanced to the floor this year but was not ultimately enacted.
There are also numerous requirements for patients to provide DHSS with information about their diagnosis, the person who would be administering psilocybin and other details on the place and time of the treatment sessions.
Psilocybin could only be administered over a maximum of a one-year period, with the amount of the psychedelic used in that treatment capped at 150 milligrams, though qualifying patients could be also approved to continue for subsequent one-year periods.
Regulators, physicians and state agency officials would all be protected from legal consequences related to activity made lawful under the legislation.
Also, the legislation calls for DHSS to provide $2 million in grants to support “research on the use and efficacy of psilocybin.”
Eapen Thampy, a lobbyist for American Shaman and organizer of Psychedelic Missouri, told Marijuana Moment that he expects the Senate measure “will be further refined through the committee process.”
“The biggest issue with passing this proposal in 2024 will be external politics and election-year drama,” he said. “We’ve largely won the argument about the legitimacy and urgency of the need for psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.”
The measure further expands the state’s Right to Try statute to allow people with life-threatening or severely debilitating conditions to access experimental controlled substances, in addition to those with terminal illnesses as is the case under current law. It would strike language that prohibits the use of Schedule I drugs, an initial step to potentially opening up access to other substances such as additional psychedelics.
Additionally, it states that psilocybin research can be done by “an institution of higher education in this state or contract research organizations conducting trials approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.”
Missouri has stood out as a key battleground for the psychedelics reform movement, with multiple GOP legislators championing proposals to free up access and promote research into the therapeutic potential of plant-based medicines in recent years.
Meanwhile, advocates have also been organizing conferences and other events—including a veterans-focused psychedelics panel that took place in October—to build on the momentum and raise awareness about the alternative therapies.
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This comes as the state’s marijuana market continues to mature, with combined 2023 medical and recreational cannabis sales surpassing $1.1 billion as of November, data from DHSS shows.
Missouri lawmakers recently announced that $17 million of the cannabis tax revenue the state has generated will be used to fund veterans health, drug treatment and legal aid.
Missouri’s marijuana system has also experienced considerable turbulence this year, with tens of thousands of products recalled over the allegedly illegal use of hemp-derived cannabinoids from outside the state. Last month, regulators moved to revoke the business license of Delta Extraction, the company at the center of the controversy.
The incident put state marijuana regulators on their heels regarding practices at product testing labs, which had already come under fire earlier in the year over alleged practices of “lab shopping” as producers sought higher THC potency numbers.
Another company, Retailer Point Management, which does business as Shangri-La in Columbia, recently settled a dispute with a union over 15 charges of unfair labor practices.
Meanwhile, lawmakers said last month the state’s marijuana regulators overstepped their authority when setting new rules on product branding and packaging meant to limit appeal to children.
In October, businesses also filed a lawsuit challenging the “stacked” local and county taxes that companies say is unconstitutional.