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New Jersey Lawmakers Amend Psilocybin Bill To Focus Only On Therapeutic Use, Removing Broader Legalization Provisions



A New Jersey Assembly committee has adopted an amendment to a psilocybin bill that aligns its provisions with a Senate companion version, removing language to more broadly legalize the psychedelic and instead focusing on therapeutic use.

The Assembly Health Committee on Monday took testimony from experts before approving the amendment to the Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act, which is being sponsored by Assemblymembers Herb Conaway (D), Clinton Calabrese (D) and Anthony Verrelli (D).

This comes just over a week after a Senate committee revised and passed that chamber’s version of the psilocybin proposal from Senate President Nick Scutari (D) and others.

The intent of the proposal is to “deal with and address the very real deficiencies that we are finding in terms of treatment for those who are in distress and not yet not able to obtain therapeutic benefit by alternate means,” Conaway, who chairs the Assembly panel, said at Monday’s meeting. “We’ll see as we move forward how this bill shapes up.”

Initially, the legislation was introduced this year in identical form to what lawmakers proposed last session—a plan that included personal legalization provisions, which the recent amended versions takes out. Those components would have made it legal for adults to “possess, store, use, ingest, inhale, process, transport, deliver without consideration, or distribute without consideration, four grams or less of psilocybin.”

The amended measures would nevertheless significantly expand on legislation introduced in late 2020 to reduce penalties for possession of up to one ounce of psilocybin. That reform that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in 2021.

In its amended version, the bill would charge the Department of Health (DOH) with licensing and regulating the manufacture, testing, transport, delivery, sale and purchase of psilocybin. There would be five license types: manufacturer, service center operator, testing laboratory, facilitator and psilocybin worker.

A Psilocybin Advisory Board would establish qualifying medical conditions for use, propose guidelines for psilocybin services and dosage, craft safety screenings and informed consent practices and oversee facilitator education, training and conduct.

Its stated goal would be to develop a long-term strategic plan for safe, accessible and affordable access to psilocybin for all people 21 and older.

Toward that goal, a social equity program would be tasked with establishing financial assistance to help low-income people cover costs of psilocybin services. DOH would also be directed to establish programs for technical assistance, reduced fees and other support services.

In furtherance of the shift toward a therapeutic-focused model, the substitute bill changes references to “clients” to “patients,” and “integrated session” has been replaced with “integrated therapy session.” It also removes all references to the existing Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

In order to access the psilocybin services, a patient with a qualifying condition would need to obtain a referral from a licensed health care professional. Services would also include mandatory preparation and integration sessions before and after the administration of psilocybin.

A survey of New Jersey residents released earlier this month indicates that a majority of state residents agree with making psilocybin available for therapeutic use, though they weren’t asked specifically about the new legislation.

The poll, from Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, found that 55 percent of respondents supported legalizing psilocybin for medical use under a doctor’s supervision. Just 20 percent of respondents were opposed, while 24 percent said they weren’t sure. One percent of respondents refused to answer the question.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 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.

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Lawmakers in a growing number of other states have also considered psychedelics legislation this session, with many focusing on psilocybin.

For example, last week the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill focused focused on military veterans that includes provisions to create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA.

The Arizona House of Representatives also advanced a Senate-passed bill this month to legalize psilocybin service centers where people could receive the psychedelic in a medically supervised setting, sending it to the governor.

Bipartisan California lawmakers recently filed legislation to authorize a pilot program that would provide psilocybin treatment to military veterans and first responders.

Last month, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a bill into law to create a psychedelic-assisted therapy working group that will make recommendations on whether and how the state should regulate legal access to substances such as psilocybin and MDMA.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed legislation last month to create a psychedelics task force responsible for studying possible regulatory frameworks for therapeutic access to substances such as psilocybin, mescaline and DMT. It would be charged specifically with ensuring “broad, equitable and affordable access to psychedelic substances” in the state.

Last month in Alaska lawmakers sent the governor a bill to create a state task force to study how to license and regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy in the event of federal approval of substances such as MDMA and psilocybin.

Indiana’s governor recently signed a bill that includes provisions to fund clinical research trials into psilocybin.

Utah’s governor, meanwhile, allowed a bill to authorize a pilot program for hospitals to administer psilocybin and MDMA as an alternative treatment option to become law without his signature.

Maine lawmakers sent the governor legislation to establish a commission tasked with studying and making recommendations on regulating access to psychedelic services.

A Connecticut joint legislative panel approved a bill to decriminalize possession of psilocybin.

The governor of New Mexico has endorsed a newly enacted resolution requesting that state officials research the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and explore the creation of a regulatory framework to provide access to the psychedelic.

An Illinois committee also recently held a hearing to discuss a bill to legalize psilocybin and allow regulated access at service centers in the state where adults could use the psychedelic in a supervised setting—with plans to expand the program to include mescaline, ibogaine and DMT.

Lawmakers in Hawaii also considered a bill that would provide some legal protections to patients engaging in psilocybin-assisted therapy with a medical professional’s approval.

New York lawmakers said that a bill to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in that state has a “real chance” of passing this year.

A Nevada joint legislative committee held a hearing with expert and public testimony on the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin in January. Law enforcement representatives also shared their concerns around legalization—but there was notable acknowledgement that some reforms should be enacted, including possible rescheduling.

Marijuana Rescheduling Opponents Slam FDA Process, Saying It Relied On ‘Very Bad Studies’

Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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


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