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Oregon State Board Says Psilocybin Is Effective At Treating Certain Mental Health Condition

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An Oregon review panel established under the state’s voter-approved therapeutic psilocybin legalization initiative has released a report stating that the psychedelic holds significant medical value for a number of mental health conditions.

After reviewing about 600 studies that looked into psilocybin, a subcommittee of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board determined that the substance is shown to be “efficacious in reducing depression and anxiety, including in life-threatening conditions.”

It noted that the studies that were under review all involved administration in a clinically supervised setting, which is also required under Oregon’s psilocybin program.

“Across studies, psilocybin increases spiritual well-being which may mediate other observed benefits,” the report, which is the product of eight weeks of review, states. “Study participants also commonly rate their psilocybin experiences as highly meaningful.”

Mason Marks, who serves on the Oregon advisory board for psilocybin, told Marijuana Moment that this first report “could have practical implications for the program because it contains recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority,” but he added that the group’s recommendations “will evolve over time.”

Marks, who is also directing Harvard Law School’s first-of-its-kind psychedelics policy center, said the subcommittee “did an admirable job of producing the document under unfavorable time constraints.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) office announced the appointment of 17 members of the psilocybin advisory board in March. The panel is meant to help facilitate the implementation of the historic reform initiative.

Sam Chapman, executive director of the Healing Advocacy Fund and the former campaign manager of the successful psilocybin ballot effort, said that the new report “represents the first time a state government has done such a thorough review of the available research,” and it’s “another proof point in the growing evidence that psilocybin can be an effective treatment for healing and growth.”

“As designed from Measure 109, this research will now be the foundation for creating the regulatory framework voters approved for the introduction of a psilocybin services program in Oregon in 2023,” he said.

Here’s a list of the advisory board’s recommendations for psilocybin implementation: 

1. To end evidence inequity, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) should gather additional information from individuals, communities, and institutions not represented in Western scientific literature (e.g., those administering psilocybin in cultures with longstanding practices and others with experience administering psilocybin in the community) to aid in developing best practices for a psilocybin services framework that maximizes equity and potential benefits and minimizes risks

2. The OHA should consider strength of evidence and risk of bias in developing a psilocybin treatment framework, particularly given the early stage of most psilocybin treatment trials.

3. OHA should consider commissioning an ongoing review (a.k.a. “living review”) mechanism to periodically summarize updates in the field of psilocybin research as they arise, given the rapidly evolving evidence base for psilocybin potential benefits and risks.

4. OHA should consider how consumers and providers of psilocybin services are informed of the potential negative effects that can occur during and after psilocybin administration (e.g., citizen education initiatives and informed consent process for consumers; incorporation of common acute and rare long-term adverse events into training, licensing, and ongoing continuing education processes for providers).

5. Because there is evidence of dose dependence of the potential benefits and risks of psilocybin, OHA should support the development of guidance regarding optimal dosing parameters to minimize these negative effects and consider how this knowledge should be disseminated to psilocybin providers and consumers (e.g., during provider training and licensing and/or via product monitoring and control).

6. OHA should consider the role of screening processes to identify individuals at higher than usual risk of negative physical and psychological effects of psilocybin and how to use this information to promote safety while preserving equitable access.

7. Given the limited generalizability of currently available clinical trials, OHA should explore the feasibility of developing a voluntary process and outcome measures for ongoing monitoring of psilocybin services implementation in Oregon, including consensual assessment of implementation in key population subgroups (e.g., by race/ethnicity, gender, and comorbid medical conditions),indications for psilocybin services, psilocybin exposure (e.g., amount and source type of psilocybin), and condition-specific outcome measures to help inform safety and equitable access to psilocybin services. Declining to share information should not affect access to psilocybin services, and the optional nature of the data sharing should be prominently emphasized during the informed consent process.

8. OHA should consider the range of research on cultivating and characterizing psilocybin-containing mushrooms (e.g., genotyping to confirm identity, methods for measuring psilocybin concentration) in developing a regulatory framework.

9. Because of toxicity concerns, OHA should initially consider prioritizing cultivation of Psilocybe cubensis and use of grain-based substrates for cultivation rather than dung or wood, and revisit cultivation of other species as more information becomes available.

10. OHA should explore feasibility and capacity of employing modern DNA sequencing-based techniques to identify fungi and fungal tissues for use in production licensing and quality control.

11. OHA should facilitate the development of screening requirements for possible mushroom contaminants.

Marks, the state advisory board member, pointed out that while the report is valuable, it is also “very narrow, focusing primarily on data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs).”

“It was widely acknowledged that other important sources of information were omitted including the epidemiological, anthropological, and psychological literature, Indigenous practices, and the voices of people with lived experience,” he said. “As a result, the Board will be pursuing research in these and other areas to guide its recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority.”

“Though the Board’s first report is useful, I would recommend that regulators hold off on incorporating these findings into their policy recommendations until additional research has been completed by the Board,” Marks added.

There’s growing interest in psychedelics reform at the local, state and federal level.

While the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday again defeated a spending bill amendment meant to promote research into the medical benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA, it picked up about 50 “yes” votes since it was last considered in 2019.

The chamber did approve report language that says federal health agencies should pursue research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for military veterans suffering from a host of mental health conditions.

Also this week, Massachusetts lawmakers heard testimony about a bill to create a task force charged with studying the implications of legalizing psychedelics like psilocybin and ayahuasca.

Three Massachusetts cities—Northampton, Somerville and Cambridge—have each passed resolutions to deprioritize enforcement of laws against the possession, use and distribution of a wide range of psychedelics and other drugs.

The state’s developments are some of the latest iterations of a national psychedelics reform movement that’s spread since Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019.

Besides those cities, however, four others—Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor and Washington, D.C.—have also decriminalized possession of plant-and fungi-based psychedelics.

An Arcata, California councilmember announced this month that she would sponsor a measure to decriminalize psychedelics. That measure has since been referred to a committee.

The governor of Connecticut signed legislation recently that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.

Texas also recently enacted a bill to require the state study the medical benefits of psychedelics for military veterans.

A New York lawmaker introduced a bill last month that would require the state to establish an institute to similarly research the medical value of psychedelics.

In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to broadly deprioritize criminalization of entheogenic substances, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that calls for the policy change to be adopted statewide and for local jurisdictions to be allowed to permit healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics.

After Ann Arbor legislators passed a decriminalization resolution last year, a county prosecutor recently announced that his office will not be pursuing charges over possessing entheogenic plants and fungi—“regardless of the amount at issue.”

The Aspen, Colorado City Council discussed the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and proposals to decriminalize such substances at a meeting in May. But members said, as it stands, enacting a reform would be more better handled at the state level while entheogens remain strictly federally controlled.

Seattle lawmakers also recently sent a letter to members of a local task force focused on the opioid overdose epidemic, imploring the group to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like ayahuasca and ibogaine in curbing addiction.

Idaho Officials Clear Marijuana Activists To Collect Signatures For Revised Legalization Ballot Measure

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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Bipartisan Pennsylvania Senators File Bill To Let Medical Marijuana Patients Grow Their Own Plants

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A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would allow medical marijuana patients to cultivate their own plants for personal use.

Sens. Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) first announced their intent to file the legislation in November, arguing that it is a necessary reform to ensure patient access by giving people a less costly alternative to buying from dispensaries.

Registered patients who are 21 and older, and who have been residents of the state for at least 30 days, could grow up to six plants in an “enclosed and locked space” at their residence, according to the text of the bill. They would be allowed to buy cannabis seeds from licensed dispensaries

 

In an earlier cosponsorship memo for the new home grow bill, the lawmakers said that letting patients cultivate their own medicine would “help ease the cost and accessibility burdens for this important medicine.”

The new legislation has three other initial cosponsors in addition to Street and Laughlin.

Street had attempted to get the reform enacted as an amendment to an omnibus bill this summer, but it did not advance.

The senators argue that patients in particular are deserving of a home grow option, as some must currently travel hours to visit a licensed dispensary and there are financial burdens that could be alleviated if patients could grow their own plants for medicine.

Late last year, Laughlin and Street also unveiled a separate adult-use legalization proposal that faces significant challenges in the GOP-controlled legislature. And Street is behind another recent cannabis measure to provide state-level protections to banks and insurers that work with cannabis businesses.


Marijuana Moment is already 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.

In the interim, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who is running for U.S. Senate this year, said one of his key goals in his final year in office is to ensure that as many eligible people as possible submit applications to have the courts remove their cannabis records and restore opportunities to things like housing, student financial aid and employment through an expedited petition program.

Pennsylvania lawmakers could also take up more modest marijuana reform proposals like a bill filed late last year to expand the number of medical marijuana cultivators in the state, prioritizing small farms to break up what she characterized as a monopoly or large corporations that’s created supply problems.

Rep. Amen Brown (D) separately announced his intent to file a legalization bill that he’ll be working on with Sen. Mike Regan (R), who expressed his support for the policy change a day earlier.

Additionally, another pair of state lawmakers—Reps. Jake Wheatley (D) and Dan Frankel (D)—formally unveiled a legalization bill they’re proposing last year.

Philadelphia voters also approved a referendum on marijuana legalization in November that adds a section to the city charter saying that “the citizens of Philadelphia call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass legislation that will decriminalize, regulate, and tax the use, and sale to adults aged 21 years or older, of cannabis for non-medical purposes.”

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said last year that marijuana legalization was a priority as he negotiated the annual budget with lawmakers. However, his formal spending request didn’t contain legislative language to actually accomplish the cannabis policy change.

The governor, who signed a medical cannabis expansion bill in June, has repeatedly called for legalization and pressured the Republican-controlled legislature to pursue the reform since coming out in favor of the policy in 2019. Shortly after he did that, a lawmaker filed a separate bill to legalize marijuana through a state-run model.

A survey from Franklin & Marshall College released last year found that 60 percent of Pennsylvania voters back adult-use legalization. That’s the highest level of support for the issue since the firm started polling people about it in 2006.

An attempt to provide protections for Pennsylvania medical marijuana patients from being charged with driving under the influence was derailed in the legislature last year, apparently due to pushback by the state police association.

Nebraska Activists Say New GOP Medical Marijuana Bill Is A ‘Poison Pill’ Meant To Detract From Ballot Efforts

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Minnesota Democratic Leaders Preview Marijuana Legalization Plan For 2022

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Minnesota Democratic leaders are preparing for another push to legalize marijuana this session, with the sponsor of the House-passed reform bill saying he will be reworking the legislation in an effort to build further support—though it continues to face an uphill climb in the GOP-controlled Senate.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) and Senate Minority Leader Melisa Franzen (D) discussed the legislative strategy during a roundtable event hosted by the Minnesota Hemp Growers Cooperative on Wednesday.

Winkler said that his bill, which moved through 12 committees before being approved on the House floor last year, is the “product of hundreds of hours of work involving thousands of people’s input, countless hearings and public listening sessions—but it is not a perfect bill.”

“As we look ahead to this session…our goal is to go back and reexamine provisions of the bill,” he said. Licensing structures, public safety and substance misuse concerns are among the issues that lawmakers will be looking at to improve upon the legislation.

“We will be working with our colleagues in the Minnesota Senate,” Winkler added. “We’re interested in pursuing legalization to make sure that the bill represents senators’ priorities for legalization as well.”

The leader said that “any effort this year that would be successful would require Republican support as well.”

But while advocates are encouraged to hear that the House may again vote to pass the legalization legislation, the Senate minority leader tempered expectations about the bill’s prospects in her Republican-run chamber.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a path to legalization this year in the Minnesota Senate,” Franzen said. “It’s controlled by the Republican party, and they have there’s a few members who are really adamantly opposed to legalization.”

Gov. Tim Walz (D) is supportive of cannabis legalization, and while the broad reform didn’t advance last session, he did sign a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, in part by allowing patients to access smokable cannabis products.

Winkler said on Wednesday that “it was because of the work done” by advocates on legalization that put pressure on Senate Republicans to advance that legislation.

Another cannabis issue playing out in Minnesota concerns CBD. The state agriculture department and pharmacy board have increased enforcement against the sale of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid in recent months, prompting calls for legislative reform.

Winkler said that the political dynamics around legalization that led to the expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program will be “a template for how we will address challenges with CBD this year.”

“My staff is working very closely with advocates, working with senators, working with other House members to get in a repair for the CBD industry, and I have every confidence that we will be able to do that with your help,” he said.

A poll conducted by Minnesota lawmakers that was released last year found that 58 percent of residents are in favor of legalization. That’s a modest increase compared to the chamber’s 2019 survey, which showed 56 percent support.

Winkler said in 2020 that if Senate Republicans don’t go along with the policy change legislatively, he hopes they will at least let voters decide on cannabis as a 2022 ballot measure.

Rhode Island Governor Includes Marijuana Legalization And Expungements In Budget Request

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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Nebraska Activists Say New GOP Medical Marijuana Bill Is A ‘Poison Pill’ Meant To Detract From Ballot Efforts

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A Republican Nebraska senator introduced a bill on Thursday that ostensibly seeks to legalize medical marijuana in the state—but activists have raised concerns that the restrictive measure may be an attempt to subvert an effort to pass even broader patient protections on the 2022 ballot.

Sen. Mike Groene (R) filed the legislation, which would allow certain patients to buy and possess cannabis oils, pills and up to two and a half ounces of flower at a limited number of dispensaries. Smoking or inhaling marijuana would be banned, however, as would making edibles—so it’s not clear how patients would consume the flower they could possess.

But the main problem is, the bill would maintain that cultivating marijuana in Nebraska for commercial or personal use is illegal, meaning dispensaries wouldn’t even have a legal means of obtaining cannabis products for patients.

The bill is also severely restrictive in terms of who would qualify for cannabis. It would only permit access to people with stage IV cancer, uncontrolled seizures, severe muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy or a terminal illness with less than a one year probable life expectancy.

It’s being backed by the Nebraska chapter of the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), leading some advocates to suspect that the lack of cultivation provisions is designed to be a “poison pill” while misleading voters into thinking that there is a good faith effort to legalize medical cannabis legislatively.

“This appears to be a political stunt,” Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release. “Opponents of medical cannabis know there is a viable campaign to put medical cannabis on the ballot, and they know Nebraskans will overwhelmingly support that effort.”

“This is an attempt to take our focus away from that,” he said. “But it won’t succeed because it’s clear that this proposal is not a good faith effort to find some middle ground on the issue.”

The bill comes as Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) continues to work to collect signatures for a pair of medical cannabis legalization initiatives that advocates hope to place on the November ballot. They have until July to collect 87,000 valid signatures to qualify each of their complementary measures.

Activists with the group collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana legalization measure for the 2020 ballot, but the state Supreme Court invalidated it, finding that the proposal violated the single-subject rule for citizen initiatives.


Marijuana Moment is already 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.

Now this legislation from Groene is entering the mix for the 2022 session. And SAM Nebraska co-chair John Kuehn told The Lincoln Journal-Star that it’s “a good faith effort and we are willing to look at this as an acceptable alternative to creating a marijuana industry in the state of Nebraska.”

While advocates aren’t necessarily buying that argument given that it would authorize dispensaries without providing the ability to cultivate marijuana products, some like NMM co-chair Sen. Anna Wishart (D) are willing to work with the senator to get the bill into a more acceptable shape for patients.

“It would be the status quo,” Wishart said. “I want a safe system, but there are practical realities patients are living with every day. No one wants a system that doesn’t work.”

Notably, Groene did support a procedural motion to advance Wishart’s more expansive medical cannabis bill last session.

Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democrats, pounced on the restrictive nature of Groene’s bill and said it makes it “not easy or feasible for most” to obtain a medical cannabis recommendation from a doctor.

Shari Lawlor, a member of Nebraska Families for Medical Cannabis, said that the group is “grateful that Sen. Groene recognizes the importance of medical cannabis,” but as drafted, “this is a medical cannabis bill with no cannabis.”

“It envisions a system with dispensaries but no farmers or cultivators who actually produce the medical cannabis that patients need,” she said. “And since patients are not allowed to cultivate medical cannabis themselves under this proposal, there is effectively no way for patients to get the relief they need.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is no fan of legalization. He partnered with SAM Nebraska on a recent ad urging residents to oppose cannabis reform in the state. Given the organization’s support for this new GOP proposal, there’s some suspicion that he might back it to give the appearance that the administration isn’t deaf to calls for reform by voters.

Advocates aren’t going to be deterred by the bill’s introduction. They will be moving forward with the complementary medical cannabis initiatives in hopes to getting the issue to voters.

The campaign deliberately chose to take a bifurcated approach because of the state Supreme Court invalidation over the single-subject rule.

One of the statutory initiatives would establish legal protections for patients and doctors around cannabis, while the other would allow private companies to produce and sell medical marijuana products.

Lawmakers attempted to advance medical cannabis reform legislatively last year, but while the unicameral legislature debated a bill to legalize medical marijuana in May, it failed to advance past a filibuster because the body didn’t have enough votes to overcome it.

Wishart and NMM co-chair Sen. Adam Morfeld (D) announced in late 2020 that they would also work to put the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use before voters in 2022. But for now their focus appears to be on the medical cannabis effort.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska’s attorney general argued in an opinion in 2019 that efforts to legalize medical marijuana legislatively in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”

Rhode Island Governor Includes Marijuana Legalization And Expungements In Budget Request

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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