The Missouri House is one step closer to passing a bill that would legalize psilocybin therapy for certain patients while promoting research into the psychedelic and expanding the scope of the state’s existing “Right to Try” law for seriously ill people.
The bill from Rep. Dan Houx (R) has moved through several committees, and now the full chamber has given initial approval to an amended version on Wednesday—setting the stage for final passage, potentially next week.
Houx said on the floor ahead of the vote that psilocybin is “a natural substance that is helping our veterans throughout the state and throughout the country—actually around the world.”
As introduced, the legislation focused on authorizing research into psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine. The sponsor’s proposed revision struck specific language on those latter two substances, but it also significantly expands the scope of the bill in other respects—including by providing more comprehensive legal protections for people who use, possess, cultivate and administer psilocybin for certain therapeutic purposes.
There are a series of conditions for the legal protection from local or state prosecution. For example, the person receiving psilocybin treatment would need to be 21 and have a diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, substance use disorder or need end-of-life care.
The protection would apply to people who are enrolled in a clinical trial involving the psychedelic or who tried to join such a study but were denied “due to lack of space or lack of existing clinical trials.”
There are also numerous requirements on providing the state Department of Health and Senior Services (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 bill calls for DHSS to provide $2 million in grants to support “research on the use and efficacy of psilocybin.”
The measure as revised 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. The policy would also be changed to 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.
The section of the bill as introduced that called for clinical trials into three psychedelics was amended to exclude reference to MDMA and ketamine, leaving just psilocybin.
Additionally, it now 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.”
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The adopted floor amendment to the legislation makes more similar to the provisions of a separate psilocybin measure from Rep. Tony Lovasco (R) that was introduced in January but did not advance.
Houx and Lovasco committed to working together to produce a holistic bill that pushes the issue forward.
“We have crossed every t and dotted every i to make sure that this is a very tightly controlled program and that we are not expanding the use of recreational substances,” Lovasco said on the floor on Wednesday. “This is strictly a medical program to help some folks that are desperately in need of some care.”
The amended bill has now cleared what’s called the “perfection” stage in a voice vote. Another vote on final passage will send it to the Senate.
Lovasco introduced an earlier version of his bill last session, but while it received a hearing in the House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee, it was not enacted and the sponsor revised it before filing this latest measure in January.
The previous version covered other psychedelics like mescaline or ibogaine. But the lawmaker told Marijuana Moment in January that it’s been winnowed down to psilocybin because “that’s what we have the most data and research on.”
Psychedelics reform proposals have emerged in numerous state legislatures of divergent political compositions for the 2023 session, with many focusing on promoting research or providing some kind of regulated access to entheogenic substances for serious conditions.
Last week, for example, Nevada senators held a hearing on a bill to legalize the possession of psilocybin, discussing a proposed amendment to remove therapeutic use provisions and taking extensive testimony from advocates and experts.
Also last week, a California Senate committee approved a bill to legalize possession of certain psychedelics and facilitated use of the substances.
A Minnesota House committee took up a bill this month to establish a task force to study and advise on the potential legalization of psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine.
Texas lawmakers recently filed a series of new bills aimed at promoting and expanding psychedelics research in the state.
This month, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin while providing legal protections against prosecution for people with eligible conditions who possess the psychedelic.
Also this month, a Rhode Island House committee held a hearing on a bill that would remove penalties for the use and possession of psilocybin and allow the home cultivation of psychedelic mushrooms for personal use.
The Washington State Senate recently passed a bill to create a task force supporting research into psilocybin and develop a pathway for legal access to the psychedelic.
Hawaii’s Senate and House passed three psychedelics research bills earlier this month.
Those are just a few examples of the types of reforms that legislators across the country are considering this session.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
A national poll published this month found that a majority of U.S. voters support legal access to psychedelics therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.