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New York Bill Would Create Psilocybin Therapy Pilot Program For 10,000 Military Veterans And First Responders



A New York lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create a pilot program to provide psilocybin therapy to 10,000 people, focusing on military veterans and first responders, while the legislature also considers broader psychedelics reform.

Assemblymember Pat Burke (D), who has championed various psychedelics measures over recent sessions, filed the therapeutic psilocybin pilot program legislation on Wednesday.

It would create the program under the state Department of Health, which would be required to provide funding to cover the therapy and develop training guidelines for professional facilitators. It would need to issue a report on findings and policy recommendations to the governor and legislature every two years after enactment.

A total of 10,000 patients could participate, including veterans and their families, first responders and people who suffer from cluster headaches. They would need to reside in the western region of New York.

The pilot program would end if psilocybin is approved for medical use by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Psilocybin therapy offers serious potential benefits to assist with mental health, but it suffers from a lack of substantial medical testing,” a memo attached to the measure says. “This bill would alleviate that problem by establishing a pilot program to test psilocybin therapy’s effectiveness on mental health.”

“This pilot program would help record the effects of this treatment on their conditions in order to better understand the effects of this new therapy which promises substantial benefits,” it says.

Under the legislation, the health department would be able to enter into agreements with experts, non-profit organizations, universities or other institutions “for the performance of an evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness” of the program.

“The department may develop, seek any necessary federal approval for, and carry out research programs relating to medical use of psilocybin,” the bill text says. “Participation in any such research program shall be voluntary on the part of facilitators, patients, and designated caregivers.”

The bill would further protect patients, practitioners and facilitators from any arrests or any other civil or criminal penalties related to psilocybin activity that’s made lawful.

Burke, the sponsor, filed separate legislation earlier this year that would more broadly allow people to receive psilocybin treatment from a certified facilitator in a clinical setting, or at their home if they’re unable to travel. The bill was amended this week to add psychologists to the list of professionals who’d be eligible to serve as facilitators.

Last December, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D) separately introduced a measure to legalize certain psychedelics such as psilocybin and ibogaine for adults 21 and older.

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.

Lawmakers in states across the U.S. are gearing up for what seems like it will be an active year for psychedelics reform in 2024.

For example, Missouri Republican lawmakers recently pre-filed a pair of bills to legalize the medical use of psilocybin and require clinical trials exploring the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.

Bipartisan and bicameral Wisconsin lawmakers have also come together to introduce a bill that would create a psilocybin research pilot program in the state.

A study group in Indiana’s legislature is encouraging lawmakers to authorize a psilocybin pilot program to research psychedelic-assisted therapy for mental health in the 2024 session.

Back in New York, the governor and top regulators have announced that the state expects to open a dozen new marijuana shops in December now that a court-imposed blockade on processing licenses has been lifted.

The governor’s office said that several new dispensaries will open over the next two weeks following the state Supreme Court approving settlement agreements for lawsuits that had blocked them from licensing hundreds of retailers since August.

As regulators process the backlog of hundreds of conditional retailer licenses, they’re also actively accepting additional applications for both recreational shops and medical cannabis dispensaries for the next few days.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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