Tag: Psilocybin

Texas Cannabis and Psychedelics Legislation Advancing Along

Step by step, state by state, we are making progress against Reefer Madness prohibition and the failed Drug War overall. While West Coast states and others with the initiative process have led the way in positive reforms, it’s imperative that we continue to make progress all across the nation and in states where legislatures are the only recourse to improving our laws. As more people become educated about the benefits of cannabis legalization and other drug policy reforms, it’s only a matter of time before dedicated, hardworking advocates win important victories across our nation. Each state just adds more ammunition to our battle of ideas in the halls of Congress, as well as more political allies willing to cast important votes, such as implementing the SAFE Banking Act and ending federal prohibition altogether. Everything is bigger in Texas, so any positive reforms secured in the Lone Star State will reverberate throughout the land. As Marijuana Moment reported, there are some important developments taking place:

The Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana concentrates—and lawmakers separately advanced legislation to require studies on the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans.

The cannabis concentrates measure would make it so possession of up to two ounces of those products would be downgraded to a class B misdemeanor. The bill cleared the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee earlier this month, and now it’s been approved on second reading in the full chamber, with a final vote to send it to the Senate expected as early as Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, the psychedelics research legislation from Rep. Alex Dominguez (D) passed in the House Public Health Committee on Monday. The panel approved amendment that includes changes limiting the scope of the state-funded study to focus on military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rather than a broader list of conditions attached to the initial bill.

Reducing criminal penalties associated with cannabis possession is obviously a step in the right direction while the  psychedelics legislation could be a real game changer. The Texas psychedelics proposal require the state to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for veterans while mandating a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans battling post-traumatic stress. Helping veterans that have sacrificed so much for our nation is the least that we can do and demonstrating success treating PTSD will surely open the doors for further research and important policy changes throughout the United States.

New York Making Progress on Cannabis! Psilocybin Mushrooms Next?

As cannabis legalization for medical purposes and adult-use have advanced state by state across the nation, a familiar pattern has emerged: states with the initiative process are the earliest pioneers while those depending upon legislators lag behind and end up passing more restrictive laws. While New York may lag behind 15 other states (and Washington DC), the Empire State seems to be on the verge of passing a rather progressive legalization law, as The New York Times reports:

The deal would allow delivery of the drug and permit club-like lounges or “consumption sites” where marijuana, but not alcohol, could be consumed, according to details obtained by The New York Times. It would also allow a person to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home, indoors or outdoors, for personal use.

If approved, the first sales of legal marijuana are likely more than a year away: Officials must first face the daunting task of writing the complex rules that will control a highly regulated market, from the regulation of wholesalers and dispensaries, to the allocation of cultivating and retail licenses, to the creation of new taxes and a five-member control board that would oversee the industry.

The deal was crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs. Millions of dollars in tax revenue from cannabis sales would be reinvested in minority communities each year, and a sizable portion of business licenses would be reserved for minority business owners.

If The Times is correct, New York’s legalization law will likely reverberate across the nation and even the world since the state is an international media and financial powerhouse. Other states, especially those sharing a border, will certainly be influenced to move towards ending prohibition more quickly, and even Oregon advocates, looking to pass the Cannabis Equity Act, a bill that includes licensed cannabis cafes and social equity provisions, could receive a boost as well.

Additionally, the race to be the next mayor of the Big Apple could add to the growing drug decriminalization movement, especially regarding psilocybin mushrooms, as New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang recently stated, “I’m for legalization of psilocybin mushrooms, and I’m open to the public policy impact of legalizing other substances.”

Regardless of whether Yang wins, a serious New York City mayoral candidate with a positive position on drug policy is great for our movement to end the failed and harmful Drug War. Of course, Oregon has helped move the national debate on psilocybin and other drugs, something that Beaver State voters can be proud of. As we have seen with cannabis, success begets success, and advancements across the nation, both at the state and local level, help advocates build upon victories as we chip away at the War on Drugs.

Merrick Garland Plans to Leave Legal Cannabis States Alone as Attorney General

The cannabis community didn’t have much information on Merrick Garland’s positions on legal cannabis states when President Joe Biden nominated the one-time Supreme Court nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States. Thanks to questioning from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who represents the most recent state to end cannabis prohibition, we know that a Garland-led Justice Department will leave regulated businesses alone, so long as they are complying with their state’s laws. (On a side note, I was overjoyed to see that the official New Jersey government Twitter account celebrate legalization yesterday.)

Marijuana Moment covered Garland’s nomination questioning regarding cannabis:

“It does not seem to me useful the use of limited resources that we have to be pursuing prosecutions in states that have legalized and are regulating the use of marijuana, either medically or otherwise,” he said when asked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I don’t think that’s a useful use.”

“I do think we need to be sure that there are no end runs around the state laws that criminal enterprises are doing. That kind of enforcement should be continued,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s a good use of our resources where states have already authorized, and it only confuses people obviously within the state.”

That view is consistent with policies put into place under Obama—known as the Cole memorandum—and then rescinded by President Donald Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

While Joe Biden certainly wasn’t the first choice of most drug policy reformers, the priorities of his AG nominee do follow an evolution in the thinking of Biden, who deservedly has a reputation for perpetuating harmful Drug War policies as a senator. It was great to hear that Garland, a current federal judge and former prosecutor, understands the need to let states implement their own cannabis policies while also addressing the systemic racism built into the War on Drugs. While it is great news that Merrick Garland will adhere to a states’ rights cannabis policy, it is imperative that new US Attorneys follow Garland’s lead on cannabis, and other drugs as Oregon won’t be the only state to move forward with drug decriminalization and medicinal psilocybin therapy laws. The times they are a-changin’ and even our nation’s top law enforcement officers are evolving.

Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board Now Taking Applications

Oregon’s cannabis community set the stage for our great state to take the lead on eliminating the harms of the Drug War by laying the foundation for change decades ago. Oregon has either been first, or among the first states to pass a few important drug policy reforms, dating all the way back to 1973, when the Beaver State was the first to decriminalize personal amounts of cannabis. Fast forward to 2020, and not only has Oregon legalized cannabis, but has become the first state to vote to decriminalize personal possession of all drugs and legalize psilocybin treatment.

The monumental mushroom measure, Measure 109, won with a strong majority at the ballot box with a smart campaign that educated voters with research and moving testimonials, especially from veterans that have been helped by psilocybin. Additionally, 109 called for a deliberate approach where the Oregon Health Authority would have a full two years to develop regulations for the licensed psilocybin system where adults can seek supervised treatment from trained facilitators.

The Oregon Health Authority has started accepting applications. Marijuana Moment caught up with Measure 109 campaign manager Sam Chapman, who I am proud to call a friend and colleague: “This is the beginning of the two-year process to ensure that Oregon creates a safe, effective and equitable psilocybin therapy program that effectively addresses the needs of Oregonians who are suffering from depression and anxiety. I look forward to working with the governor, legislature and the Oregon Health Authority to ensure that the therapy is affordable and that those who need it have access.”

If you have what the Oregon Health Authority is looking for, I urge you to apply. It is important that our state regulators have input from everyday Oregonians. Today is another day that I’m reminded that I am so fortunate to live in Oregon.

From OHA’s website:

November 30, 2020

The Office of Governor Brown is seeking applicants for the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board.

Established by Ballot Measure 109 (2020), the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board makes recommendations to the Oregon Health Authority on available scientific studies and research on the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions, and makes recommendations on the requirements, specifications and guidelines for providing psilocybin services in Oregon.

OHA invites applications from people who meet the following criteria:

  • Local health officer.
  • Representative of a federally recognized Indian tribe.
  • Member of the OHA Addictions and Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council.
  • Member of the OHA Health Equity Policy Committee.
  • Member of the OHA Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Advisory Council.
  • Individual who represents individuals who provide public health services.
  • Psychologist licensed under ORS chapter 675 who has professional experience engaging in the diagnosis or treatment of a mental, emotional, or behavioral condition.
  • Physician licensed under ORS chapter 677 who holds a degree of Doctor of Medicine.
  • Naturopathic physician licensed under ORS chapter 685.
  • Expert in the field of public health who has a background in academia.
  • Person who has professional experience conducting scientific research regarding the use of psychedelic compounds in clinical therapy.
  • Person who has experience in the field of mycology.
  • Person who has experience in the field of ethnobotany.
  • Person who has experience in the field of psychopharmacology.
  • Person who has experience in the field of psilocybin harm reduction.
  • Person representing the Oregon Liquor Control Commission who has experience working with the system developed and maintained by the commission under ORS 475B.177 for tracking the transfer of marijuana items.
  • Person representing the Oregon Department of Justice.
  • Member of the public.

To apply, submit the following documentation to executive.appointments@oregon.gov by Jan. 1, 2021:

  1. A completed executive appointment interest form, which is available on the Governor’s office website.
  2. A resume or brief biographical sketch.
  3. A brief statement of interest.

For more information, email oha.psilocybin@dhsoha.state.or.us or contact André Ourso, OHA Public Health Division, at 971-673-0404.

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YES on Oregon Measure 109 to Allow Medical Psilocybin Therapy

Oregonians, if you haven’t turned in your ballot yet, this is my personal plea to vote YES on Measure 109 so our state can move forward with medical psilocybin therapy. Psilocybin therapy has shown promising results in treating anxiety and depression and the passage of 109 will make Oregon a pioneering leader on medical psilocybin, similar to how our great state was one of the early adopters of medicinal cannabis.

PBS reported on a study detailing the potential of “medical mushrooms” helping patients’ anxiety:

Dr. Stephen Ross, the psychiatrist who led the NYU study, says he knew nothing of that history until a colleague, Dr. Jeffrey Guss, brought it up just a few years ago. “When I took a closer look, it astounded me,” says Ross. “It involved some of the best psychiatric minds of the day, and it was a complete new paradigm of care, with the idea of mystical states at its core.”
While the notion of a “mystical state” sounds fuzzy, researchers have developed a scale, the Mystical Experience Questionnaire, or MEQ30, to try and quantify it.On the MEQ30, participants are asked questions such as whether they’ve had “experience of unity with the ultimate reality,” or “awareness of the life or living presence in all things.” In the recent studies, a higher score on the MEQ30 – more mystical, as it were – correlated strongly to improvement.

In an earlier study at Hopkins, a majority of healthy volunteers who took psilocybin rated the occasion among the five most meaningful experiences of their life. These people were simply spending the afternoon in a room at a medical clinic, accompanied by two near-strangers. And yet, the sense of deep meaning comes up again and again.

Folks unfamiliar with psilocybin really only need to be educated about the promising benefits of the treatment, as well as the relatively safety of it. Measure 109 take a very methodical, careful approach that phases in the psilocybin treatment system over a two year span. The 109 campaign has done a great job racking up some prominent mainstream support that has helped spread the word.

Some people experienced with psilocybin have expressed concerns to me about the regulations established and the fact that 109 doesn’t decriminalize personal use outside of a treatment facility. Those of us that have long understood the need to end the failed and futile War on Drugs can be upset about reform measures not going far enough, or by the implementation of regulations.

However, in my personal opinion, we need to move forward with proposals that improve upon the status quo. Measures that make the ballot are compromises that won’t please everyone that could potentially be supportive, but no major reform law is going to please everyone. Patients from all walks of life, including our veteran heroes suffering from post-traumatic stress, could use a new therapy, especially when pharmaceutical drugs haven’t helped them. Please vote YES on 109 and we can continue to work on improving the law over the coming years.