The governor of Texas allowed a bill that will require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics to become law without his signature on Friday.
This comes days after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed separate legislation to modestly expand the state’s limited medical marijuana program.
Under the psychedelics measure, the state will be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center.
It also mandates a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.
“Psychedelic medicine has the potential to completely change society’s approach to mental health treatment, and research is the first step to realizing that transformation,” Rep. Alex Dominguez (D), sponsor of the bill, said in a press release after it was sent to Abbott’s desk.
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“It’s said that ‘as goes Texas, so goes the nation,’” he said. “While states across the country consider how best to address the mental health crisis facing our nation, I hope they once again look to Texas for leadership.”
Former Gov. Rick Perry (R), who also served as U.S. energy secretary, called on lawmakers to approve the psychedelics legislation this year.
Even though the modest medical cannabis expansion and psychedelics research measures were enacted, this session saw several other reform proposals—such as ones to decriminalize marijuana possession, update hemp regulations and lower penalties for cannabis concentrates—first advance through the House but later stall in the Senate.
But while the new psilocybin and MDMA study bill is a notable development for psychedelics policy, especially given the state’s historically conservative approach to drugs, Texas is far from the only state pursuing such reform.
A California bill to legalize possession of psychedelics passed in the Senate earlier this month, for example. And it’s since been referred to two Assembly committees.
The governor of Connecticut signed legislation this month that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.
A New York lawmaker introduced a bill this month that would require the state to establish an institute to similarly research the medical value of psychedelics.
In Oregon, November’s election saw the passage of a historic initiatives to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and more broadly decriminalize possession of all drugs.
Local psychedelics activists have also succeeded in getting policy changes enacted across the country since Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019.
The Northampton, Massachusetts City Council passed a resolution in April to deprioritize enforcement of laws against the possession, use and distribution of a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. It’s the third city in the state to advance the policy change, following Somerville and Cambridge.
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 last month. 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.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.