A newly introduced bill in Rhode Island would effectively legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state, removing penalties around possession, home cultivation and sharing of psilocybin until mid-2026.
The proposal, from Rep. Brandon Potter (D), would not establish a commercial retail system around psilocybin—at least until after federal reform is enacted. Until then, it would exempt up to an ounce of psilocybin from the state’s law against controlled substances provided that it “has been securely cultivated within a person’s residence for personal use” or is possessed by “one person or shared by one person to another.”
In an interview with Marijuana Moment, Potter said proposed change, which he described as a decriminalization model, is designed to provide flexible access to people who could benefit from psilocybin.
“Anything we do health-related needs to put patients front and center,” he said. “When you see all this overwhelming data that shows health benefits, the last thing I wanted to do was create a legalization model that would make it highly regulated and restrict access to people who actually need it.”
Allowing noncommercial growing and sharing of psilocybin, he said, “would create the framework to have it be the most accessible model for people to actually be able to get.”
In states where psilocybin-assisted therapy is legal, for example Oregon, Potter said, patients are sometimes paying $5,000 to $10,000 for treatment with psychedelics.
“We have a big shortage of behavioral health care providers in Rhode Island,” Potter said. “A lot of them already are so squeezed by the private insurance system that they only take patients who are paying out of pocket. I don’t want to exacerbate that issue.”
He also doesn’t want to frame the reform to colleagues as a change aimed at making money.
“I don’t want this to be an economically driven initiative,” he said. “This is about a care option for people, not creating a new industry for the state at the expense of people’s care.”
Beyond legalizing personal possession and use, the measure also includes contingent provisions that would be triggered by federal reform. If the federal government were to reschedule psilocybin, the legislation says, the state Department of Health “shall establish rules and regulations pertaining to cultivation, distribution and medical prescription.”
The wording of that provision creates some confusion, however. It suggests the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—which is mistakenly referred to in some cases as the “Federal Drug Administration”—has the authority to reschedule, when in fact that jurisdiction is typically understood to lie with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). FDA, for its part, is responsible for approving specific pharmaceutical drugs.
In the case of the CBD drug Epidiolex, for instance, FDA approved the pharmaceutical, and DEA subsequently rescheduled the cannabinoid itself. To use cannabis more broadly as an example, even if DEA decides to reschedule the substance, it could still be months or years before FDA approves a new marijuana-derived drug for prescription by doctors.
The proposed Rhode Island measure would also, contingent on FDA’s “expansion of its access program,” provide for a path to accessing psilocybin at the state level.
“Patients with a serious or life-threatening mental or behavioral health disorder, who are without access to effective mental or behavioral health medication,” it says, “may have access to psilocybin at locations in Rhode Island approved by the Rhode Island department of health.”
Asked about the wording, Potter emphasized that the primary goal of the bill is decriminalization, though he eventually also wants to allow doctors in the state to be able to recommend psilocybin to patients. Any lack of clarity on what would follow federal reform is separate from the bill’s limited possession, cultivation and sharing proposals, which would take effect on July 1 of this year.
“The intention of that provision,” he said of the reference to federal rescheduling, “is to allow therapists to be able to not only prescribe a pharmaceutical per se, but to recommend a natural therapeutic to patients if they think this is helpful to them, without having a legal liability.”
The section in question, he said, is designed to get the ball rolling at the state Health Department.
“It’s really about delegating to the Department of Health, like, ‘OK, once this is no longer a Schedule I drug, figure out what you can do to allow behavioral healthcare professionals to recommend this to patients where they see fit,'” he clarified.
Changes under the bill, H 7047, would be only temporary, scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2026. Before then, the Rhode Island’s attorney general would need to issue a report to the House speaker and Senate president including “the number of violations issued for possession, cultivation or distribution of psilocybin.” The state Department of Health would need to file a report, meanwhile, “relating to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) scheduling of psilocybin and permitted use for the treatment of mental or behavioral health disorders.”
“Any time we introduce anything that might have some kind of stigma to it or could be controversial to a certain segment of people who are not familiar with it, it causes some hesitation and concern,” Potter explained. “As I worked through this with legislative leaders and some of my colleagues, I was trying to address those concerns. There was a desire to track what the criminal justice implication of this was and revisit it in a couple of years.”
The bill’s cosponsors include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Robert Craven (D) and eight other lawmakers.
Other than specific dates mentioned, are virtually identical to those in the lawmaker’s proposal from last session, H 5923. The full Rhode Island House of Representatives approved that legislation on a 54–11 vote last year, but it did not progress in the Senate.
When the House passed last year’s measure, Potter called it “a positive step toward addressing mental healthcare with modern, evidence-based policy and research.”
As for this year’s bill, the lawmaker said he’s hopeful the measure will make it to the Senate again and receive a hearing there.
After last year’s House vote on Potter’s bill, he said, “I had a lot of people reach out to me expressing great appreciation for passing the bill and sharing their personal stories with me about their use of psilocybin and how helpful it was for them.”
“I’m hopeful that with a Senate committee hearing this year, they’ll hear some of those voices,” he added, “and understand that there’s a number of people in Rhode Island that have already benefitted from this as a treatment, and in doing so they’ve broken the law.”
Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 900 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.
Meanwhile, the state’s marijuana system marked its first full year of legal sales last month, with Gov. Dan McKee (D) saying the state is “proud of the careful execution that defined our entry into this industry.” Retailers sold more than $100 million worth of cannabis products during the first year of operation.
Industry advocates have listed four main changes they’d like to see to the state’s cannabis law in the year ahead, narrowing qualifications around social equity, expanding the social equity fund with tax revenue, waiving certain fees and offering provisional business licenses.
Regulators, meanwhile, have been seeking state and federal data to better define social equity eligibility.