Arizona lawmakers have approved a bill in committee to promote research into the medical potential of psilocybin mushrooms for a variety of conditions, which could inform future reforms to more broadly allow access to psychedelic-assisted therapy.
The House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee unanimously passed the legislation from Reps. Kevin Payne (R), Jennifer Longdon (D), Stacey Travers (D) and Sen. T. J. Shope (R) in a 15-0 vote on Monday. The bill was introduced last month.
The proposal is focused on psilocybin research, providing $30 million in grants over the course of three years for scientists to study the impact of the psychedelic on 13 different conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, long COVID symptoms and substance misuse disorder.
It wouldn’t legalize psilocybin like lawmakers in several other states are aiming to accomplish, but the research that the bill would support is meant to steer the conversation about broader reforms down the line.
The research grants would be appropriated for phase I, II and III clinical trials that are “capable of being approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate the effects of whole mushroom psilocybin” for the designated conditions.
“The public may not realize that early FDA-approved studies showing psilocybin looks promising as a medicine are ONLY looking at synthetic psilocybin molecule. That’s not a real world evaluation,” Sue Sisley, a researcher at the Arizona-based Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) who has been carrying out psychedelics and cannabis studies, told Marijuana Moment on Thursday.
“We want to understand the risks/benefits of whole complex mushrooms—the stuff actually being consumed daily by patients around the globe,” she said. “Arizona is poised to be the 1st state to sponsor controlled trials of whole natural mushrooms!”
Today HB 2486 (clinical research; psilocybin; grants; appropriation) passed MAPS Committee by a unanimous vote of 15-0! Thank you to brave bipartisan lawmakers sponsoring this bill to study veterans & first responders! @KevinPayne4AZ @TJShopeforAZ @JenLongdon @TraversforAZ pic.twitter.com/f3G7iJEF8E
— Sue Sisley, MD (@suesisleymd) February 13, 2023
Under the legislation approved in committee, people who receive the grant money and work on the clinical trials would be explicitly protected from prosecution under the bill.
A “Psilocybin Research Advisory Council” would be established under the Department of Health Services (DHS), tasked with establishing eligibility criteria for grant recipients, overseeing applications and making “recommendations to the governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate and the department on psychedelic-assisted therapy based on current federal and state research policy.”
The bill says that the council would need to include the DHS director, a physician with a federal license to study psychedelics, a military veteran, a law enforcement official and a professor or researcher from an Arizona-based university.
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This is one of numerous pieces of psychedelics reform legislation to be filed at the state-level so far this session.
Hawaii senators recently approved a bill in committee to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, MDMA and other alternative treatments for mental health conditions.
Additional psychedelics developments have taken place in Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire and Utah in recent weeks.
Last week, the Virginia Senate approved a bill to establish a statewide psilocybin advisory board while moving the psychedelic to a lower schedule under state statute.
In a setback, Virginia lawmakers rejected another bill last month that would have allow people with serious mental health conditions to possess and use psilocybin mushrooms with a doctor’s recommendation.
Legislators in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oklahoma have also filed bills to revise laws governing entheogenic plants and fungi.
New York Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D) pre-filed legislation late last month to legalize certain psychedelics like psilocybin and ibogaine for adults 21 and older. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) also recently signed a bill mandating that the state immediately reschedule or deschedule Schedule I drugs like MDMA and psilocybin if they’re reclassified under federal law.
Bipartisan Washington State senators also recently unveiled a revised bill to legalize psilocybin services for adults.
There are also psychedelics reform efforts underway in California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey and Oregon.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last month concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
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