As we predicted just a few weeks ago in our post The Emerging “Psilocybin Industry” Prepares for Massive Growth in 2021, this year continues to bring good news for psilocybin advocates fighting for legal reform.
Hot off the heels of yet another randomized clinical trial from researchers at Johns Hopkins indicating that psilocybin assisted therapy may be no less than four times more effective than traditional antidepressant medications, lawmakers in even more U.S. states are examining the possibility of legalizing the psychedelic compound for regulated therapeutic use.
Today we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the bills which have been introduced in Florida, Connecticut, and Hawaii. We’ll also look at a recent reform bill in New Jersey, which some members of the news media have been incorrectly reporting as “decriminalization,” which it is not.
Before we begin, we’ll again refer you to our post What is Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy, and Why Are Medical Professionals so Excited About It? for a more detailed explanation of psilocybin assisted therapy and how it works.
It’s also worthwhile to be explicitly clear that the legal changes being discussed today refer to psilocybin being used in a clinical setting, provided by a licensed service provider—not carte blanche legalization for everyone. However, one could reasonably argue that these are the necessary “baby steps” to that end, eventually.
Let’s start by clearing up some of the misinformation about the legal changes in New Jersey, and then we’ll discuss what’s going on in Florida, Connecticut, and Hawaii.
New Jersey Psilocybin Penalty Reductions for Psilocybin Mushroom Possession
On February 4th, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a reform bill into law concerning psilocybin mushroom possession.
The new classification is what should be referred to as a penalty reduction. Prior to the passage of this bill, psilocybin mushroom possession carried a harsh penalty of three to five years of incarceration and a maximum fine of $15,000. Now, any individual caught with one ounce or less of psilocybin will face a six month sentence or a $1,000 fine.
We assume the “one ounce” refers to the dry weight of psilocybin-containing mushrooms, not the wet weight, but perhaps the law in New Jersey doesn’t make this distinction; the author of this blog post—despite an extensive online search—was unable to confirm this. If any readers know the answer, you are urged to leave a comment below with a source.
Regardless, these legal changes are at least a step in the right direction. They are not, however, “decriminalization”, as some outlets have reported. Decriminalization is generally defined as when a previously illegal activity is no longer considered a criminal offense, though it may still carry civil consequences.
In New Jersey, psilocybin mushroom possession is still a criminal offense, only now with a less severe punishment. See “What’s the Difference Between Legalization and Decriminalization?” in our article Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal in My State? because as amateur microscopists it’s important we have a very solid understanding of these terms!
Moving on, the following three bills we’ll look at are more similar in nature to the ballot initiatives recently passed in Washington, D.C. and Oregon (read more: Washington, D.C. and Oregon Psilocybin Initiatives Approved: What it Means for You).
Florida House Bill 549 Seeks to Allow the Use of Psilocybin in Mental Health Treatments
Representatives Michael Grieco and Nick Duran presented HB 549 to the Florida House on January 28th which primarily aims to allow the use of psilocybin for mental health treatments.
The bill, which if enacted would be referred to as the Florida Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act, further seeks to establish licensure requirements for what essentially amounts to the entire psilocybin “supply chain”, including manufacturing facilities, service providers, and other facilitators.
It seems in this case the bill authors have genuinely done their homework, as the 59-page bill is quite detailed and generally uses language favorable to psilocybin advocates.
Connecticut House Bill 6296 Wants to Establish a “Task Force” to Study the Health Benefits of Psilocybin
Introduced by multiple representatives alongside Senator Rick Lopes, Connecticut House Bill 6296 aims to establish a state-funded task force assigned to researching the health benefits of psilocybin (though perhaps a better term to use would be confirming).
Since it isn’t a stretch to imagine that the task force, if allowed to proceed, would undoubtedly “discover” many such health benefits, this is a good sign for the future of psilocybin assisted therapy in Connecticut, but there’s still a long road ahead.
Hawaii Senate Bill 738 Moves to Decriminalize & Allow Psilocybin Use in Therapeutic Applications
SB 738 in Hawaii, introduced by Senators Les Ihara Jr., Maile Shimabukuro, Stanley Chang, and Laura Acasio, aims to not only allow psilocybin for use in therapeutic applications, but also to completely remove psilocybin and psilocin from the list of Schedule I substances in the Aloha State.
The ambitious bill would further require the local Department of Health to established “designated treatment centers” for the administration of psilocybin and would set up a panel of reviewers to oversee the effects of the act, if passed into law.
Senator Ihara appears to be continuing his fight for psilocybin advocates, as last year in 2020 he attempted to set up a working group similar to Connecticut’s proposed task force to study the health benefits of psilocybin. The resolution didn’t pass, but perhaps the Senator believes that this bill can get through thanks to the increasing preponderance of evidence now available some 11 months later.
Remember, Psilocybin Mushroom Spores are Already Legal in Most of the United States
Since spores themselves don’t contain psilocybin or psilocin—only the mature mycelium and fruiting bodies of the fungi will contain those compounds—you can easily order psilocybin mushroom spores online here at Quality Spores for microscopy research purposes.
As more information comes in about the state bills we discussed today, we’ll make sure to update this post so that you can continue to stay informed.