Psychedelics legislation took off across the country this year. Lawmakers in about a dozen states have put forth legislation that would advance legal access to the drugs. Some states, like Illinois and New Jersey, are considering legislation that would create an Oregon-style regulated psychedelic market. Others, like California and Nevada, may be looking at a future of decriminalized possession of certain psychedelic substances. Regardless of the scope of actions being considered, one thing is certain: State legislators are becoming increasingly more open to the world of psychedelics.
Big Action States: Those Considering Legalization or Decriminalization
Lawmakers in California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts have made great strides toward legalizing psychedelics.
In New York state, lawmakers have proposed legalizing the possession and use of certain natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens. These include DMT, psilocybin, psilocin, peyote, mescaline, and iboga by people 21 or older. It would also remove these hallucinogens from the list of Schedule I controlled substances under state law.
Similarly, lawmakers in California and Nevada have introduced legislation to decriminalize the possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, or transportation of specified quantities of the same psychedelics, with the exception of peyote, for personal use or facilitated use by and with persons 21 years of age or older.
Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts appear to be following Oregon’s path as they propose decriminalizing certain psychedelics and exploring their therapeutic effects.
In New Jersey, Senate Bill 4911 would decriminalize the possession, manufacture, and sale of psilocybin by removing these activities from the state’s list of controlled substances. Under the proposal, adults over the age of 21 would be allowed to possess and use psilocybin in private, non-public settings.
An Illinois lawmaker proposed the Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens (CURE) Act as a part of Illinois House Bill 0001. The bill would amend the Illinois Controlled Substances Act to remove criminal penalties for the possession, delivery, or manufacture of psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine (except ibogaine from iboga), and mescaline (except mescaline from peyote). The amendment makes it a Class A misdemeanor offense for people to knowingly possess, deliver, or manufacture these psychedelics unless authorized for medical or scientific research purposes.
Massachusetts lawmakers proposed decriminalizing the possession, ingestion, cultivation, and transportation of certain entheogenic plants and fungi, including psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline for persons 18 years of age or older.
Medium Action States: Those Allowing for Use Under Medical Supervision or Within a Pilot Program
Hawaii Senate Bill 1454 proposes establishing a Psilocybin and Psilocin Therapeutic Use Advisory Board to advise the health department on these drugs, including issues related to patient access, research, and education. If enacted, S.B. 1454 would allow licensed health providers to administer psilocybin or psilocin to patients with a qualifying medical condition in a supervised setting. The bill would require the Hawaii Department of Health to establish rules and regulations governing the use of psilocybin and psilocin for therapeutic purposes, including training and certification requirements for healthcare providers, patient screening and evaluation protocols, and facility requirements.
Missouri House Bill 869 would allow licensed healthcare practitioners to administer psilocybin to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, a terminal illness, or “another serious condition” that does not respond to alternative treatment. This treatment would occur under medical supervision. The bill would also allow the unlicensed manufacture of psilocybin products.
Utah Senate Bill 200 would establish a psilocybin pilot program in which as many as 5,000 individuals may participate. The proposal would establish a fully regulated supply chain similar to Utah’s medical marijuana program. Only two licenses would be issued to prospective cultivators of psilocybin mushrooms, but there would also be independent testing laboratories and licensed therapy centers.
New Jersey Senate Bill 2934 proposes a program for the therapeutic use of psilocybin. Licensed health care professionals would be permitted to prescribe psilocybin to treat certain mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addiction, in a controlled setting. This proposal is separate from Senate Bill 4911, discussed above.
‘Small Action’ States: Those Pursuing Research
The New Mexico State House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved House Bill 393, creating a state advisory body to study the potential launch of a psilocybin and MDMA therapy program for patients with certain mental health conditions, including addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and psychological distress relating to the end of life. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
In Missouri, House Bill 1154 instructs the state health department to perform clinical trials examining the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine for certain mental health conditions. The proposal has already been approved by three legislative committees in the Missouri House.
Washington Senate Bill 5263 originally proposed to establish an Oregon-style psilocybin market. The current version of the bill, however, would establish working groups within the executive branch to study the legalization of psilocybin, recommend a proposed regulatory structure, and prepare for the launch of a commercial market should lawmakers authorize such a launch in their 2025 legislative session. This altered bill has advanced to the House.
Rapid Progress Toward Legalization
The criminalization of certain substances has left countless people incarcerated while preventing individuals from accessing natural hallucinogens that may provide relief in battling mental health problems, substance use disorders, chronic pain, or other health conditions. Many years of research into naturally occurring substances have shown documented success in alleviating pain, reducing the intensity of substance use disorder, and easing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders, including end-of-life anxiety and other conditions.
Cities like Oakland, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Ann Arbor have recognized the potential benefits and already enacted laws decriminalizing certain psychedelic substances. Colorado and Oregon have legalized the therapeutic use of psilocybin statewide. Pending legislation across roughly a dozen states signals that this shift toward the legalization of psychedelic therapies may continue for the foreseeable future.