Several states are aiming to decriminalize or legalize psychedelics. Photo credit: By Simol1407.
Magic mushrooms, MDMA and other psychedelics have states taking steps towards decriminalization and legalization for various benefits.
Legislators are following suit of Oregon’s Measure 109, a ballot measure that voters passed in 2020 allowing citizens statewide to have supervised use of psychedelics in therapeutic settings. The initiative makes The Beaver State the first in the nation to do so, reports The Oregonian.
Scientists are now conducting research into the benefits and potential risks of using psychedelics. For example, MDMA, LSD and psilocybin (magic mushrooms) have immense positive-mood effects, according to a Yale research study. They can also help veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) overcome trauma from a healthy and transformative lens.
As science continues to reveal the efficacy of such substances, more and more states and cities are joining the psychedelic revolution. Here are some states that are putting their efforts towards reform.
This past October, Seattle decriminalized non-commercial uses of psychedelics, allowing for cultivation and uses outside of therapy, like religion, spirituality or personal growth, according to Rolling Stone. It is not an ordinance, but a way to protect those who are involved in certain psychedelic use or production. The decision, Resolution 32021, states that the arrest or prosecution for psychedelics “should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest enforcement priorities.”
This January, Washington legislators also proposed a new statewide law — the Psilocybin Wellness and Opportunity Act. If passed, it will allow a regulated psilocybin industry for legal adults 21 and older. It would not be necessary to have a medical condition, showing a lax attitude compared to other states, explains Marijuana Moment.
Voters approved Measure 109 Nov. 3rd, 2020, allowing the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) “to establish a psilocybin therapy program,” according to DoubleBlind Magazine. The efforts were inspired by the impact of psychedelics on mental illness.
The two year development period began in January 2021 and expires Dec. 31st, 2022, according to Psilocybin Alpha, a policy and stock tracking resource. Commercial use of psilocybin products will begin on Jan. 2nd, 2023.
California Senate Bill 519 proposes to legalize possessing, sharing or moving psychedelics for individuals 21 years old and over. This is a bigger step than other states, as it includes personal use. According to Cal Matters, the bill has had to go through several hurdles in order to pass. It barely cleared the state Senate, and in the Assembly, the bill had democrats divided back in June.
Ketamine was originally included. But due to concerns of the effects for women and sexual assault, it was taken out before the Assembly’s public safety committee approved it, reports AP News.
Mixed feelings arise, as some feel that it will increase crime around drugs, according to Cal Matters.
But cities throughout the state are taking their own steps. For example, in early 2020, Santa Cruz approved the decriminalization of psychedelics unanimously, making them the lowest priority for law enforcement. The decision came after council members heard personal testimonies of the transformative properties and positive impacts psychedelics have, according to Marijuana Moment.
Additionally, Oakland decriminalized psychedelics back in 2019, but activists began to push for full legalization and consumption in October 2021. They have placed an emphasis on allowing local vendors to sell psychedelics to gain further support from the city. They hope to accomplish their goals in 2022.
Psilocybin Alpha explains how California will readdress Bill 519 in their January 2022 session, leaving hopeful Californians waiting for potential legalization.
After failure to pass legislation decriminalizing psychedelics in February 2021, newly filed bills in Virginia could be making headway. For example, the House of Delegates is pushing to decriminalize several psychedelics while the Senate is pushing to only cover psilocybin and psilocin, according to Marijuana Moment.
Sponsors of the bills are emphasizing research, hoping to persuade others to vote for decriminalization. The sponsors still anticipate challenges from Virginia’s newly elected GOP Governor, Glenn Youngkin. For now, the verdict in Virginia is unknown, but will be up-and-coming this year.
Last June, the Governor of Connecticut signed Senate Bill 1083, calling for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to conduct a study on psychedelics and their effect on mental health. Many state governors are requiring funded research into psychedelics before deciding on legislation. The results of the study were due on Jan. 1st, and with both parties around the country interested in the benefits of legalization and decriminalization of entheogens, the outlook is hopeful.
Texas lawmakers are also requiring officials to conduct research before passing any potential legislation. Last June, the state signed a research bill to look into benefits of psychedelics for military veterans. According to Marijuana Moment, the state is studying the medical risks and benefits associated with psychedelics like ketamine with the Baylor College of Medicine. The clinical trial received funding of $1.4 million to specifically look at the effects on PTSD in veterans. The report must be submitted by Dec. 1st of this year.
In the last two years, New York lawmakers introduced several different measures to decriminalize entheogens. This past December, assembly members introduced Bill No. A8569. The bill examines the medical use of psilocybin in service centers for coping with illnesses like PTSD, depression, anxiety and alcohol dependence.
In June of last year, Bill No. A7928 proposed the establishment of a therapeutic research institute and program to look further into psychedelics for educational purposes. The institute examined the effects on PTSD, depression, anxiety and more. Democrat Assemblyman Pat Burke is now spearheading the bipartisan bill, introducing special treatment centers to ensure safety and proper regulation, Marijuana Moment reports.
Other New York legislation would decriminalize possession of these substances and establish a task force to further recommend other reforms, according to Psilocybin Alpha.
Since March 2021, psychedelics like magic mushrooms, ayahuasca and mescaline were decriminalized in the District through DC Initiative 81. According to The Washingtonian, the decision was based on research on the positive effects on mental health and was funded by David Bronner of the Dr. Bronner soap company.
Detroit decriminalized psychedelics in November 2021, as 61% of voters supported the measure in an unofficial election. The vote did not legalize possession, but rather ensured that law enforcement would not prioritize arrests over usage.
But Detroit isn’t the first city in the state to do so. According to PBS News Hour, Ann Arbor also decriminalized the “possession, non-commercial use and cultivation” of psychedelics back in 2020. Additionally, Grand Rapids is funding research to investigate the pros and cons. Lansing, Flint and other Michigan areas are considering decriminalizing as well, following Ann Arbor and Detroit’s lead.
Overall, the legalization and decriminalization of psychedelics focuses on aiding veterans and those who are susceptible to and suffer from mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, depression and more. 2022 is a big year for several states with expiration dates on research studies approaching. The future of psychedelics in the U.S. is pending, with certain states trailblazing for the rest.
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