The House today passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter to decriminalize personal use of psilocybin, the entheogen found in so-called magic mushrooms. The bill would also, contingent on FDA approval, allow psilocybin to be used as a treatment for chronic mental health disorders.
“This is a step toward addressing mental health treatment in a modern way based on evidence and research. Psilocybin can be used safely, both recreationally and therapeutically, and for our veterans and neighbors who are struggling with chronic PTSD, depression and addiction, it can be a valuable treatment tool,” said Representative Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston). “Adults in our state deserve the freedom to decide for themselves and have access to every treatment possible, rather than have our state criminalize a natural, non-addictive, effective remedy.”
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring entheogen that has been used by humans for thousands of years. Researchers in the United States isolated the compound in 1959 and began using it in psychotherapy. But as President Nixon’s “war on drugs” picked up steam in the 1970s, psilocybin was made illegal, preventing researchers from exploring its therapeutic value. Some scientists received permission from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct research starting in the 1990s. Since then, dozens of universities and biotechnology companies have found benefits for patients with chronic mental illness.
As chronic depression, anxiety and PTSD has risen around the country, many individuals and communities have begun using psilocybin as treatment. The Biden administration anticipates that regulators will approve psilocybin for therapeutic use within the next two years. In 2020, voters in Oregon approved the therapeutic use and decriminalization of psilocybin by referendum. Colorado voters followed suit in 2022. Several other states, including New York, New Jersey and Vermont are considering similar bills.
The bill (2023-H 5923A) would allow individuals to possess up to one ounce of psilocybin or grow mushrooms containing psilocybin at home for personal use. It would also require the Rhode Island Department of Health to promulgate rules surrounding the use of psilocybin as a treatment, contingent upon approval from the FDA. The provisions of the bill would sunset on July 1, 2025, unless extended by the General Assembly.
The bill now heads to the Senate where Sen. Meghan Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence) has introduced similar legislation (2023-S 0806).
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