Connect with us

Politics

Psychedelic Mushroom Bills Filed In Florida And Connecticut As Movement Expands To Multiple States

Published

on

Lawmakers in Connecticut and Florida have filed new bills to reform state laws on psilocybin mushrooms—the latest in a trend of psychedelics proposals to emerge in 2021.

Rep. Michael Grieco (D) filed the Florida legislation on Thursday, which would establish a legal psilocybin model for therapeutic use in the state, similar to an initiative that Oregon voters approved in November. It also seeks to deprioritize criminal enforcement against a wide range of psychedelic plants and fungi.

The Connecticut bill, sponsored by Rep. Josh Elliot (D) and four other legislators, would simply create a task force responsible for studying the medical benefits of psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms.

The main objective of the broader Florida legislation is to promote mental health treatment with the help of psilocybin.

The substance “has shown efficacy, tolerability, and safety in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions, including, but not limited to, addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress,” the bill states, adding that Florida has “one of the highest prevalence rates of mental illness among adults in the nation.”

If approved, the Department of Health would be responsible for implementing regulations to allow people 21 and older to access psilocybin at licensed facilities where they would undergo therapeutic sessions in a clinical setting. An advisory board would be established within the department to make regulatory recommendations.

Among the bill’s priorities are to “educate the public about the safe and effective use of psilocybin,” “reduce the prevalence of mental illness,” create a long-term plan to facilitate psilocybin therapy and redirect police resources away from criminalizing people over psychedelics.

To accomplish that latter goal, the bill says the state’s law enforcement department “shall make the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older engaged in noncommercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi one of its lowest enforcement priorities.”

That includes “any plant or fungus of any species in which ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, or psilocin occurs naturally in any form,” the legislation states.

Regulators would also be responsible for compiling research into the risks and benefits of psilocybin and publishing their findings a public site. The proposal also calls on the health department to determine whether the psychedelic products should be tracked seed-to-sale using the same system that the state’s medical marijuana program utilizes.

“Florida does not have to be the last state to catch up with science every time,” Grieco said in a press release. “Between medical marijuana and climate change, our state seems to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The science regarding psilocybin is real, cannot be ignored, and soon will be a universally-accepted form of treatment in the U.S.”

“Veterans and veterans organizations should be watching closely on behalf of folks suffering from addiction, PTSD and depression,” he said. “I recognize that I have authored a very ambitious 59-page bill, but the conversation needs to start somewhere, and I am ready to work with both my Republican and Democrat colleagues to create a framework designed to help those patients who need it.”

One especially ambitious provision of the legislation concerns federal enforcement. It says that federal prosecutors “shall cease prosecution of residents of the state” for cultivating, possessing or using entheogenic plants.

Grieco told Marijuana Moment that he recognizes the state can’t mandate that federal prosecutors adopt that policy, but “we can ask.”

The Food and Drug Administration “has already approved its use for two scenarios,” he said, referring to the agency’s designation of psilocybin as a breakthrough therapy. “It was filed as-is to be ambitious but anything that moves in the process is a good thing. Would have to be greatly watered down to move.”

It remains to be seen when the bill might receiving a hearing. The lawmaker said he has “a couple more bills to file before I sit down with leadership to try to move anything.”


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 450 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.

Over in Connecticut, the newly filed psilocybin bill is much more limited in scope. The text of the legislation calls for “the general statutes be amended to establish a task force to study the health benefits of psilocybin.”

Both of these proposals come on the heels of a Senate bill being introduced in Hawaii that would also establish a medical model for the lawful use of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. And in New Jersey, legislators recently passed a bill that would reduce criminal penalties for possession of the psychedelic.

These proposals can be viewed as a sign of the broader impact that local reform advocates behind a growing movement to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi are achieving. Activists have said that they hoped their local successes would move the conversation, inspiring legislatures and even Congress to take the issue seriously.

This trend can be traced back to Denver, where voters approved a first-in-the-nation initiative to decriminalize psilocybin in 2019. That was proceeded by a wave of city-level reforms, with Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, Washington, D.C. and Somerville, Massachusetts enacting policies to deprioritize enforcement of laws against psychedelics.

A California state senator also plans to file a bill to decriminalize psychedelics for the 2021 session. And lawmakers in New York, Virginia and Washington State are pushing broader reforms concerning the decriminalization of all drugs, similar to a separate ballot measure that Oregon voters approved in November.

Meanwhile, a recently formed organization—the Plant Medicine Coalition—is hoping to build on the localized momentum and bring the fight to Congress, lobbying lawmakers first to appropriate money to study the benefits of psychedelics and then to pursue broader reform.

Alabama Could Legalize Medical Marijuana Under Bill Filed By Republican Senator

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.

Politics

Virginia Has Sealed 64,000 Marijuana Distribution Charges Since Legalization Took Effect This Summer

Published

on

“These aren’t just numbers and there are families attached.”

By Ned Oliver, Virginia Mercury

Virginia has sealed records documenting more than 64,000 misdemeanor marijuana distribution charges since the state legalized the drug in July.

The figure came out Thursday during a meeting of the legislature’s Cannabis Oversight Commission.

Officials said the records were scrubbed from the state’s criminal record database, which is used by employers like school boards, state agencies and local governments to screen employees.

The state had already sealed 333,000 records detailing charges of simple possession last year after the state reduced the offense to a civil infraction on par with a traffic offense, said Shawn G. Talmadge, the Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Lawmakers directed the state to expand that effort when they voted to broadly legalize recreational use of marijuana earlier this year.

The legislature also agreed to a broader expungement reform that will automatically seal other misdemeanor charges, including underage possession of alcohol, use of a fake ID, petit larceny, trespassing and disorderly conduct. Talmadge said those charges will remain in the system until the state finishes updating the software it uses to track criminal records.

“As of right now, the process is proceeding,” he said.

Members of the oversight commission also heard from two advocates who urged them to move fast to address people currently imprisoned for marijuana offenses—a category of people the legalization legislation passed this year did not address.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, the leader of the advocacy group Marijuana Justice, and Gracie Burger, with the Last Prisoner Project, said Department of Corrections data suggests there are currently 10 people being held solely on serious marijuana charges.

They said it remains unknown how many more are being held because of marijuana related probation violations.

“These aren’t just numbers and there are families attached,” Burger said.

This story was first published by Virginia Mercury,

Nevada Sold More Than $1 Billion In Marijuana In One Year, Officials Report

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.
Continue Reading

Politics

DEA Proposes Dramatic Increase In Marijuana And Psychedelic Production In 2022, Calling For 6,300 Percent More MDMA Alone

Published

on

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is proposing a dramatic increase in the legal production of marijuana and psychedelics like psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and DMT to be used in research next year.

In a notice scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday, the agency said there’s been a “significant increase in the use of schedule I hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes,” and it wants authorized manufacturers to meet that growing demand.

DEA had already massively upped its proposed 2021 quota for cannabis and psilocybin last month, but now it’s calling for significantly larger quantities of research-grade marijuana and a broader array of psychedelics to be manufactured in 2022.

It wants to double the amount of marijuana extracts, psilocybin and psilocyn, quadruple mescaline and quintuple DMT. What especially stands out in the notice is MDMA. The agency is proposing an enormous 6,300 percent boost in the production of that drug—from just 50 grams in 2021 to 3,200 grams in the coming year—as research into its therapeutic potential continues to expand.

LSD would see a 1,150 percent increase, up to 500 grams of the potent psychedelic.

Marijuana itself would get a 60 percent boost under DEA’s proposal, up to 3.2 million grams in 2022 from the 2 million grams last year.

Here’s a visualization of the proposed quota increase from 2021 to 2022 for marijuana and cannabis extracts:

For all other THC, psilocybin, psilocyn and MDMA:

And for other psychedelic substances like LSD, mescaline and DMT:

DEA said in the Federal Register notice that it has been receiving and approving additional applications to “grow, synthesize, extract, and manufacture dosage forms containing specific schedule I hallucinogenic substances for clinical trial purposes” to achieve these ambitious quotas.

“DEA supports regulated research with schedule I controlled substances, as evidenced by increases proposed for 2022 as compared with aggregate production quotas for these substances in 2021,” the agency said, adding that it working “diligently” to process and approve marijuana manufacturers applications in particular, as there’s currently only one farm at the University of Mississippi that’s permitted to cultivate the plant for research.

“Based on the increase in research and clinical trial applications, DEA has proposed increases in 3,4- Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), 5-Methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, Dimethyltryptamine, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Marihuana, Marihuana Extract, Mescaline, Psilocybin, Psilocyn, and All Other Tetrahydrocannabinols to support manufacturing activities related to the increased level of research and clinical trials with these schedule I controlled substances.”

Here are the exact numbers for the proposed 2021 and 2022 quotas:

Substance 2021
2022 proposed
Marijuana 2,000,000 3,200,000
Marijuana extract 500,000 1,000,000
All other tetrahydrocannabinol 1,000 2,000
Psilocybin 1,500 3,000
Psilocyn 1,000 2,000
MDMA 50 3,200
LSD 40 500
Mescaline 25 100
DMT 50 250
5-MeO-DMT 35 550
MDA 55 200

A 30-day public comment period will be open after the notice is formally published on Monday.

It’s difficult to overstate just how significant the proposed 2022 increases are, but it’s certainly true that scientific and public interest in marijuana and psychedelics has rapidly increased, with early clinical trials signaling that such substances show significant therapeutic potential.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that she was encouraged by DEA’s previous proposed increase in drug production quota. She also said that studies demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics could be leading more people to experiment with substances like psilocybin.

Advocates and experts remain frustrated that these plants and fungi remain in the strictest federal drug category in the first place, especially considering the existing research that shows their medical value for certain conditions.

A federal appeals court in August dismissed a petition to require the DEA to reevaluate cannabis’s scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act. However, one judge did say in a concurring opinion that the agency may soon be forced to consider a policy change anyway based on a misinterpretation of the therapeutic value of marijuana.

Separately, the Washington State attorney general’s office and lawyers representing cancer patients recently urged a federal appeals panel to push for a DEA policy change to allow people in end-of-life care to access psilocybin under state and federal right-to-try laws.

Singer Melissa Etheridge And Activist Van Jones Promote Psychedelics Reform As Movement Grows

Image element courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.

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.
Continue Reading

Politics

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case On Legalizing Safe Drug Consumption Sites, But Activists Are Undeterred

Published

on

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has rejected a request to hear a case on the legality of establishing safe injection sites where people can use illicit drugs in a medically supervised environment.

The justices announced on Tuesday that they decided against taking up the case raised by the nonprofit Safehouse, despite the pleas of attorneys general from 10 states and D.C. who recently filed amici briefs urging the court’s involvement.

Representatives from 14 cities and counties, as well as the mayor of Philadelphia, which is at the center of the current case, also filed briefs in support of the case in recent days.

Safehouse was set to launch a safe consumption site in Philadelphia before being blocked by a legal challenge from the Trump administration. It filed a petition with the nation’s highest court in August to hear the case.

But while the Supreme Court declined to take action—and the Biden administration passed up its voluntary opportunity to weigh in at this stage, which may well have influenced the justices’ decision—activists say the battle will continue at a lower federal court level, where the administration will have to file briefs revealing its position on the issue.

“We were disappointed that the government chose not to respond to our petition,” Safehouse Vice President Ronda Goldfein told Filter. “They said, ‘We’re going to waive our right to respond,’ [and] the Supreme Court declined to review our case. Ordinarily that sounds like the end of the road—but in our case we are still pursuing our claims in a different venue.”

That venue will be the the federal district court in Philadelphia, where activists plan to submit multiple arguments related to religious freedom and interstate commerce protections. The Biden administration will be compelled to file a response in that court by November 5.

“If they don’t respond, they lose,” Goldfein said.

A coalition of 80 current and former prosecutors and law enforcement officials—including one who is President Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. attorney of Massachusetts—previously filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to take up Safehouse’s safe injection case.

Fair and Justice Prosecution, the group that coordinated the amicus brief, also organized a tour of Portugal for 20 top prosecutors in 2019 so they could learn about the successful implementation of the country’s drug decriminalization law.

If the Supreme Court were to have taken the case and rule in favor of Safehouse, it could have emboldened advocates and lawmakers across the country to pursue the harm reduction policy.

The governor of Rhode Island signed a bill in July to establish a safe consumption site pilot program where people could test and use currently illicit drugs in a medically supervised environment. It became the first state in the country to legalize the harm reduction centers. It’s not clear whether the Department of Justice will seek to intervene to prevent the opening of such facilities in that state.

Massachusetts lawmakers advanced similar legislation last year, but it was not ultimately enacted.

A similar harm reduction bill in California, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D), was approved in the state Senate in April, but further action has been delayed until 2022.

Florida Democratic Candidates For Governor Fight Over Who Supports Marijuana Reform The Most

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.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Marijuana Moment