A pair of Washington state lawmakers this week introduced legislation that would legalize what the bill calls “assisted psilocybin experiments” for adults 21 and older.
If enacted, the Psilocybin Wellness and Opportunity Act would allow individuals to consume products containing psilocybin and psilocin, the main active ingredients in cannabis mushrooms, with the support of a trained and state-licensed psilocybin service official.
While most people will need to go to a licensed service center, those with certain medical conditions, including those who cannot travel, may be eligible to receive psilocybin products at home and meet facilitators remotely.
Mason Marks, a senior fellow and project leader on the Harvard Law School’s Narcotics Law and Regulation Project who helped draft some sections of the bill, told Marijuana Moment that it “builds on the momentum of previous psilocybin policy reform efforts in Seattle and across the state.”
Voters in neighboring Oregon passed an initiative in 2020 to Legalization of psilocybin-supported therapy for mental health. This program is currently in a two-year development phase, and it is expected that licensing applications will be accepted starting next January. Meanwhile, Seattle has become Largest US city to decriminalize drug After the city council decision in October.
Washington’s new statewide bill would establish a psilocybin industry that is legal, regulated, and available to all adults of legal age.
“With subsidized adult use, psilocybin services are made available to people age 21 or older for almost any purpose,” Mason Marks, senior fellow and project director at Psychedelics Law and Regulation at Harvard Law School, who helped draft the law, said in Blog Mail about the invoice. “The law states that clients do not need a medical condition to participate, and psilocybin services in Washington will not constitute a medical diagnosis or treatment.”
Nationally and internationally recognized medical institutions have shown that psilocybin can help treat “a variety of behavioral health conditions,” according to the bill, which was sponsored by Senators Jesse Salomon (D) and Liz Lovellette (D), “including but not limited to Addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress”.
Salomon told Marijuana Moment that as mental health issues worsen amid the COVID pandemic, “It is exciting to know that research shows that targeted, safe and certified psilocybin services have some of the best outcomes of any treatment in treating addiction, anxiety, depression, and addressing the internal challenges people face.”
“This is a practice as old as humanity itself, and it is time to incorporate this opportunity for healing into our toolbox here in Washington State,” he said. “We should not deprive ourselves of the benefits of these services when there is so much suffering in our communities.”
A Salomon media representative told Marijuana Moment that the bill “essentially follows the thrust” of Oregon’s psilocybin initiative “but does include some modifications to address the issues Oregon has encountered during implementation.”
Under the legislation, SB 5660, the state health ministry will issue licenses and regulate the new industry. The act would create a Washington Psilocybin Advisory Board within the department to advise on issues such as available scholarly and social research, best practices for subsidized use as well as the bill’s Social Opportunities Program criteria.
Marks told Marijuana Moment, noting that the legislation would provide home services and an option for potential facilitators to complete most training from home.” The bill’s Social Opportunities Program, he said, “will provide reduced licensing fees, training, and other benefits to licensees from lower-income parts of the state.”
The Washington Department of Health will need to adopt rules for a “comprehensive regulatory framework” during an 18-month development period after the law is passed. The division must begin receiving orders to manufacture psilocybin products, operate a service center, facilitate psilocybin services, or test products beginning January 2, 2024.
The Services will not be permitted within the boundaries of an incorporated city or town unless this jurisdiction specifically permits, and cannot be located in areas designated for exclusively residential use. With some exceptions, they will also need to be within 1,000 feet of an elementary or high school. Until 2026, licensees will need to be Washington residents or entities with majority ownership and control of Washington residents.
To qualify for the Social Opportunity Program, applicants must be one or more than half of their employees from low-income “disadvantaged areas,” identified through enrollment in the Federal Free Lunch Program, or meet other criteria set by the Department of Health during the program development period.
John Rapp, an attorney at cannabis-focused Harris Bricken who also helped craft the legislation, told Marijuana Moment in an email that he was “particularly excited about the inclusion of the innovative Social Opportunity Program,” adding that these equity measures are “a big missing piece in the drugs”. (Lawmakers in Washington adopted a file First legal marijuana social justice program Only in 2020, after several years of legalization.)
Under the new proposal, employers will be barred from discriminating against people for receiving legal psilocybin services unless they show clear impairment at work and cannot test workers unless they display “clear observable symptoms of impairment.”
Last October, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a resolution Decriminalization of non-commercial activity around a wide range of narcotics, including the cultivation and sharing of the mushrooms psilocybin, ayahuasca, ibogaine and non-peyote-derived mescaline. The measure expanded what had already been the city’s policy not to arrest or prosecute people for personal drug possession to further protect the cultivation and sharing of narcotic plants and fungi for “religious, spiritual, therapeutic, or personal growth practices.”
Council member Andrew Lewis, who introduced the resolution, In an interview with Marijuana Moment He believes “we’re in a situation where I think we can see very fast action from the state,” noting that he received very little feedback from voters about his proposal.
The Seattle decision was inspired in part by the city council’s interest in reducing opioid-related deaths. In June, members formally asked a local task force to study the overdose crisis To examine the “public policy governing narcotic drugs”. Three months later, the task force The city recommended decriminalizing the drug Consider removing criminal penalties around all drugs. Meanwhile, members of the advocacy group Decrim Nature Seattle have spent more than two years lobbying the council to end sanctions for the cultivation and sharing of the narcotic drug.
Lawmakers in Washington last legislative session considered a bill It would have removed all penalties To acquire relatively small “personal use” quantities of medicines and instead invest in treatment and recovery services. While that legislation died on the committee, lawmakers from both parties at the time acknowledged that the state’s drug-enforcement apparatus was broken.
Shortly thereafter, the State Supreme Court Completely overturn the Washington Criminal Code against drug possession, sending lawmakers scrambling to replace the law. In the end they agreed to a modest reform, Reducing the state’s charge of drug possession felony to a misdemeanor And allocate more money for treatment. But criminal penalties in law will expire in 2023, in an effort to encourage lawmakers to reconsider the policy.
Last September, officials of the State Prosecutor’s Office Join the efforts of cancer patients and palliative care workers who are they File a lawsuit against the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) To gain access to psilocybin under state and federal right-to-try laws, which allow patients with pre-existing conditions to try experimental drugs that have not been approved for general use.
Dr Sunil Agrawal, co-director of the Institute for Advanced Integrated Medical Sciences (AIMS), who is one of the plaintiffs in the case, told Marijuana Moment in an email Wednesday that while the 69-page psilocybin bill introduced this week “contains the Too many details to comment on, “He was happy to see the legislation up front and thought it was a step in the right direction.
“I think it could be more lenient and respectful of freedom and include a clear decriminalization of psilocybin along with licensed frameworks of use, to show respect for the traditional and customary use of psilocybin by the people of the state,” he said. “In addition, I would like to see some kind of fast track created for those who might shorten their life expectancy and not be able to wait for the 18 months suggested here to set and enforce the rules. There is no need to reinvent the wheel or make this onerous Extremely “.
Judicial authorities across the country are increasingly removing or reducing penalties related to drug possession and consumption, especially when drugs are involved. Since Denver in 2019 became the first US city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, a number of states and municipalities have made similar changes.
Oregon voters passed two initiatives in 2020 to Legalization of psilocybin therapy And Decriminalize all drug possessionand voters in Washington, D.C., agreed to hold a ballot that year Failure to prioritize enforcement of laws that criminalize narcotics.
Other states have passed more moderate measures, for example Connecticut, which last year passed a law requiring the state to Conducting a study on the therapeutic potential of the drug. Texas also adopted a law last year to Study the benefits of the drug for veterans.
California made a push to legalize possession of hallucinogenic drugs last year, and while that measure has been paused, the bill’s sponsor said it did Planning to take him across the finish line this year. Legislators in other large states, including Florida And New York They recently introduced bills to reform narcotic drugs.
How federal prosecutors can respond to legal psilocybin in Washington state remains an open question. The new bill notes that officials will attempt to meet with state federal prosecutors “to discuss this chapter and potential federal enforcement policies regarding psilocybin in Washington after the 18-month program development period ends.”
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