Montana lawmakers have defeated a bill that would have legalized psilocybin therapy for adults with certain medical conditions. However, there’s talk about moving a more limited measure to study possible psychedelics reforms.
The House Human Services Committee took up the legislation from Rep. Jill Cohenour (D) in a hearing on Wednesday. Members then rejected the measure in an executive session in a 9-12 vote on Thursday.
The bill would have allowed adults 18 and older with one of four qualifying conditions to access the psychedelic in a regulated, therapeutic setting with professionals. The qualifying conditions were post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.
Cohenour said during Wednesday’s committee hearing that psychedelics reform is “becoming such an up-and-coming thing that we really wanted to get this conversation in front of the legislature.” She pointed to psychedelic legalization developments in California, Colorado and Oregon.
The Department of Revenue would have been responsible for issuing medical psilocybin cards to patients who provide the necessary documentation, as well as business licenses for therapeutic psilocybin treatment centers.
Those centers would have bee n permitted to cultivate and administer the psychedelic as prescribed by the law and overseen by the department.
Further, the legislation laid out requirements for psilocybin clinicians, facilitators and technicians.
The proposal sought to provide legal protections for employees, licensees and patients who participate in the program. It also laid out penalties for unsanctioned activity such as prohibited distribution of the fungi.
“The use of therapeutic psilocybin must occur under the supervision of a therapeutic psilocybin clinician and only as part of a treatment regimen consisting of a preparation session, an administration session, and an integration session,” the bill text says.
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Following testimony from several proponents of the reform, the sponsor was asked whether she’d be open to pursuing a more modest measure to simply study psychedelics issues to inform future legislation.
She said that while she hoped that the committee would advance her current bill to the floor for a broader discussion, she’s been speaking with lawmakers in both chambers about a dialed-back study measure.
“We needed to have this conversation before we can move on just to make sure that it’s kind of out in the public sphere,” she said. “People will understand why the legislature might think that that’s important and why we would think a study bill would be a good idea.”
Rep. Greg Oblander (R) said at Thursday’s executive session that “maybe as more studies come out and things like that where we can see the benefit that would be more convincing” and he might support it. But for now, he said he didn’t feel he had enough information to advance the legalization bill.
A legal review note for the bill that was prepared by the Legislative Services Division cautioned that the reform “may raise potential federal constitutional issues related to the Supremacy Clause under the United States Constitution.” That was also a point of discussion and concerns for some lawmakers, even though other states have moved forward with psychedelics reform and Montana itself allows sales of federally illegal marijuana.
Montana voters legalized cannabis for adult use at the ballot in 2020, with the governor signing implementation legislation the following year despite the federal policy conflict.
Montana is one of the latest states where lawmakers are working to advance psychedelics legislation this session.
On Wednesday, for example, Washington State lawmakers amended and approved a psilocybin bill—and they placed certain provisions to provide patients with therapeutic access to the psychedelic back in the legislation that had been stripped out by the Senate.
The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) recently said that it would be prudent for the state to legalize certain psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA to prepare for a likely federal policy change allowing their use for medical treatment.
Also last week, the Missouri House came one step closer to passing a bill that would legalize psilocybin therapy for certain patients while promoting research into the psychedelic and expanding the scope of the state’s existing “Right to Try” law for seriously ill people.
Those are just a few examples of the types of reforms that legislators across the country are considering this session.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
A national poll published this month found that a majority of U.S. voters support legal access to psychedelics therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.
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