The governor of Washington State has signed a bill to promote research into psilocybin and create a pilot program to provide therapeutic access to the psychedelic for mental health treatment.
At a signing ceremony on Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) enacted the legislation from Sens. Jesse Salomon (D) and Liz Lovelett (D), though he partially vetoed several sections that he said “no longer align with the bill’s intent.”
As introduced earlier this session, the measure would have more broadly legalized psilocybin, allowing people 21 and older to access the psychedelic under the care of licensed facilitators. But it was significantly watered down at the Senate committee stage to only provide for a task force and advisory group to study the reform. Those changes reportedly came after pushback from the governor’s office about the broad scope of the original bill.
Later, on the House side, Rep. Nicole Macri (D) modestly expanded the legislation with her committee amendment to add in the pilot program to allow the University of Washington (UW) to provide access to the psychedelic for military veterans and first responders in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mood and substance use disorders.
Watch the governor sign the psilocbyin bill, around 36:05 into the video below:
The UW clinical pilot program will need to “offer psilocybin therapy services through pathways approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” the bill says.
While the pilot program section of the bill is now enacted into law, Inslee’s partial veto eliminated provisions that would have created a Psilocybin Advisory Board and an Interagency Psilocybin Work Group. A section creating a separate Psilocybin Task Force was not vetoed.
The work group would have been charged with, among other things, “developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for a regulated psilocybin system, including a process to ensure clean and pesticide-free psilocybin products.” It would also have had to review research on the psychedelic as well as indigenous practices with it, and would’ve taken steps to ensure that a social opportunity program is included within any eventual licensing system “to remedy the targeted enforcement of drug-related laws on overburdened communities.”
The governor’s veto also removed sections outlining certain regulatory and research responsibilities for the state Departments of Health and Agriculture, as well as the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
There’s been some pushback to the scaled back reform, with certain advocates expressing concern that the legislation could give lawmakers an excuse to delay consideration of more comprehensive legalization while the psilocybin studies are conducted.
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Inslee has received numerous drug policy reform bills this session. That includes legislation that he signed last week authorizing interstate marijuana commerce, pending a federal policy change.
Also, on Tuesday, the governor signed a bill into law that will protect workers from facing employment discrimination during the hiring process over their lawful use of marijuana.
Last week, the governor also announced a special legislative session for lawmakers to prevent a drug decriminalization policy from taking effect following a state Supreme Court action.
Image courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.