On Monday, November 13, 2021, New York General Assembly member Pat Burke introduced the medicinal drug psilocybin legislation. The bill’s “general purpose or idea” provides a good summary: This legislation would “create psilocybin service centers to provide innovative treatment options for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol dependence, and anxiety, among others.”
The bill echoes two separate pieces of controlled substance legislation: (1) Oregon’s legalization of psilocybin (a topic we’ve written about extensively)hereAnd here And here, to list a few)); and (2) the Marijuana Tax and Regulatory Act (MRTA), another topic we have written extensively (see hereAnd here And here, to begin).
Some key points of the invoice:
Many types of licenses
Like the MRTA, this medical psilocybin legislation includes several types of licenses with a similar licensing path:
- Registration as a psilocybin service center, which will include preparation, administration, and integration sessions that are directed and monitored by a psilocybin service facilitator.
- Registered organizations, which will be allowed to acquire, own, manufacture, sell, deliver, transport, distribute or dispense psilocybin.
- Psilocybin Research License, which will allow for efficacy testing, clinical investigations, research on efficacy and safety, and agricultural research.
- Psilocybin Service Facilitator License, which will allow individuals to facilitate psilocybin administration sessions. As stated in the bill, “To obtain a license, such person must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, meet training requirements as specified by the department, meet exam requirements, and demonstrate facilitation and support skills.
Expanded list of eligible medical conditions
This bill includes the definition of eligible medical conditions:
The term “condition” means the presence of one of the following conditions: cancer, positive status of HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nerve tissue of the spinal cord with an objective neurological indication that treatment is difficult. Spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease, PTSD, pain impairing health and functional ability where medical cannabis use is a substitute for opioid abuse, substance use disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, inflammation Rheumatoid arthritis, autism, or any other condition approved by the practitioner.
Qualified medical practitioners will need to take a two-hour training course provided by the Ministry of Health in order to approve treatment of patients with psilocybin.
rules and restrictions
There are many rules and restrictions imposed on licensees and practitioners, including a ban on owning a psilocybin manufacturing facility, or having employees, with certain criminal convictions in the past three years. Like the MRTA, there is an exception for criminal convictions for selling or possessing controlled substances, unless those transactions involve minors.
Similar to MRTA, licensing factors will include whether applicants are a “minority-owned business and/or women, a service-disabled veteran-owned business, or from communities disproportionately affected by the enforcement of the psilocybin ban.”
The bill also provides for the creation of the psilocybin Services Grant Program Fund for Veterans and First Responders to be jointly administered by the Commissioner of Health and the State Comptroller. The bill allocates $2 million for the grant program.
We can’t put it better than the medical psilocybin legislature itself does:
Struggling with illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and alcoholism can be major disruptors in the livelihood of both a person and his or her family. These mental health impairments can lead to poor physical health, poor task performance, and increased suicide rates. Psilocybin therapy is a breakthrough method for providing people with treatment for these diseases.
Certain occupations, particularly those serving society through exposure to risk, have increased the prevalence of these health disorders. Data from the RAND Corporation shows that 8,000 New York veterans who fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers have a higher prevalence of depression, PTSD, and substance abuse than the general population.
The US Food and Drug Administration recognizes that treatment with psilocybin is significantly better than current treatment options. Establishing a broad pathway to provide the New Yorker with this medical treatment would be a huge step in providing life-improving mental health care. Oregon, Texas, and several cities have taken similar steps to increase access to psilocybin therapy.
These treatment centers will provide a safe physical environment supervised by trained observers to eliminate the minimal risk involved in psilocybin. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that psilocybin shows a low potential for abuse and can be classified as “least harmful to users and society.”
Besides enabling the creation of treatment centers, this legislation will also create a $2 million fund for veterans, firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers who can apply for financial support for treatment. First responders expose themselves to potential trauma on a daily basis to keep us safe and healthy. Ensuring their access to this treatment is indicative of our reciprocity to keep them safe and healthy.
As exciting as it is, it is important to remember that this is Suggestion legislation. Various versions of MRTA were introduced in years Which led to his leave earlier this year. We are now waiting to see how the legislation is received and whether it progresses toward legalizing actual medicinal psilocybin. Stay tuned!