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New York Bill Would Legalize Psilocybin For Adults Who Obtain Permits



A top New York lawmaker has introduced a bill to legalize psilocybin for adults, provided they obtain a permit after undergoing a health screening and educational course.

The legislation, sponsored by Assembly Health Committee Chair Amy Paulin (D), is one of the latest examples of New York legislators moving to enact psychedelics reform amid a growing state-by-state movement across the country.

The intent of the measure is to promote “the health and well-being of the citizens of the state of New York by establishing a comprehensive framework supporting public health and safety through regulated adult use, support services, and cultivation of psilocybin-containing fungi,” it says.

Under the bill, the state Department of Health would regulate the program, licensing psilocybin cultivators and providing psilocybin permits to adults. There would be a mandatory educational course lasting up to five hours and a health screening requirement in order to obtain a permit.

With a permit, adults could lawfully grow, possess, use and share psilocybin with other permitted adults.

The measure includes an extensive list of possible conditions that could be treated such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it also says eligibility is “not limited” to those conditions.

Regulators could also provide certifications to entities that provide supportive services for adults with psilocybin permits.

The use, cultivation and sale of psilocybin without a license or permit would be treated as a “violation” under state statute, meaning the maximum penalty would be a $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail. To that end, it would not broadly decriminalize the psychedelic as other bills have sought, but it would reduce the penalty.

The legislation also calls for the establishment of a “Regulated Psilocybin Advisory Board” under the health department to “advise and issue recommendations” related to the program.

Among the board’s responsibilities would be a mandate to “develop a long-term strategic plan for ensuring that psilocybin services in the state will become and remain a safe, accessible and affordable therapeutic option, including in therapeutic and medical treatments, for all persons eighteen years of age and older for whom psilocybin services may be appropriate.”

Members would additionally be tasked with monitoring and studying “federal laws, regulations and policies regarding psilocybin.”

The department would need to create a tax scheme for providers that derive revenue from the psilocybin services, which would be deductible under the state tax code. Taxes and fees would cover the administrative costs, “including but not limited to education and risks of using psilocybin.”

“The public health framework established in this bill supports and provides protections for adult use of psilocybin, cultivators, and the providers of optional support services that will improve the general health of families and communities and address the harmful impact of certain physical and mental health conditions,” a memo attached to the bill says. “Legal adult use of psilocybin with regulated educational requirements and other harm reduction mechanisms, cultivation, and, optionally, support services during such use increases safety.”

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Health Committee, which is chaired by the sponsor.

In February, bicameral New York lawmakers said at a briefing that there’s a “real chance” that legislation to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy will advance through committee this session, emphasizing that delaying action would “neglect” many “people who need help” with certain mental health conditions.

“We’re in a mental health crisis, and so we need every tool that’s available to us,” Assemblymember Pat Burke (D), who is sponsoring a separate bill to create a psilocybin therapy pilot program for 10,000 people, said. He added that “we’re here to turn the page” on the broader drug war.

Another measure the lawmaker introduced last year 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.

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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New York’s legislature has been exploring a variety of psychedelics policy issues in recent sessions. In December 2022, for example, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D) separately introduced a measure to legalize certain psychedelics such as psilocybin and ibogaine for adults 21 and older.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have also recently filed legislation that would allow people in the state to bring legal actions against entities that violate state marijuana laws, potentially empowering ordinary individuals to sue unlicensed cannabis sellers or licensees skirting state law.

Earlier this month, a bill that would create a statewide overdose prevention center pilot program in New York narrowly passed out of a Senate committee, though lawmakers on both sides of the issue said they expect further debate on the proposal if it makes it to the chamber floor.

This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the bill’s provisions.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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