Psychedelic policy updates from around the world
The general population is waking up to the therapeutic possibilities of psychedelics as policy and social norms continue to inch away from prohibition. In the last week, states have moved toward legalization, while others seek funding to continue their efforts.
Harm-reduction bills are also on the table in Minnesota, where they’re also on the cusp of cannabis legalization. Across the pond, European nations are also making moves in favor of psychedelic medical treatments.
In addition to decriminalizing entheogens like psilocybin mushrooms, governing bodies are opting to regulate the facilitation of psychedelic experiences. As city, county, and state governments navigate uncharted policy territory, they face unique circumstances. Here’s an international rundown of updates to psychedelic legalization and regulation.
Colorado legalizes plant Entheogens
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into state law that sets a framework for regulating psilocybin, ibogaine, mescaline (not derived from peyote), DMT, and psilocin. The psychedelics are legal for those 21 and up, and there’s no limit on how much a person can carry–Coloradans can also grow the approved entheogens under the new law.
The bill will also create “healing center” licenses along with others to closely monitor and regulate cultivation and production. Language blocks municipalities from banning healing centers, but they can limit how the centers operate. In the current iteration of the law, healing centers could only administer psilocybin or psilocin (two of the tryptamines found in psychedelic mushrooms), but regulators can add additional psychedelics in the future.
An addition to the original bill will oversee the formation of American Tribes and Indigenous community working group under the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). Group members will have a platform to identify and address the exploitation and/or commercialization of indigenous medicines and practices before it happens. The law also creates an avenue to seal psychedelic-related arrest records.
License application lotteries for healing centers, cultivation, testing, and production will open in 2024. Before then, Gov. Polis is tasked with forming the Natural Medicine Advisory Board (NMAB) to get things moving.
California set to follow in Colorado’s footsteps
Senate Bill 58 in California is Senator Scott Weiner’s second attempt at getting psychedelics legalized after taking too big of a swing last session. The watered-down version of the original bill would legalize the possession, acquisition, and transportation of psilocybin, ibogaine, DMT, and mescaline for personal or therapeutic facility use.
The bill holds some similarities to the one recently signed in Colorado. First, the bill would not legalize synthetics like LSD and MDMA. Additionally, SB-58 removed peyote from the list of legalized entheogens following an outcry from local indigenous groups regarding overharvesting.
Entheogen-facilitated “group counseling and community-based healing” are also allowed under the bill, which faces Assembly consideration following an affirmative vote on the Senate floor.
Oregon struggles to fund psilocybin services
The Oregon Health Authority started accepting license applications for psilocybin services at the beginning of 2023. Ballot Measure 109, the voter initiative that legalized the mushrooms in Oregon, designated $10,000 yearly fees for license holders and $2,000 for facilitators, which would fund the program.
However, halfway through the year, there are three centers licensed by the state to facilitate mushroom trips–many cite the fees themselves as a deterrent to applying for a license, Willamette Weekly reports.
Due to the lack of license applications, OHA must find funds elsewhere. The OHA has asked Legislature for an additional $6.6 million to fill the budget gap and keep the program afloat.
To offset the high cost of doing business, some service centers charge as high as $3,500 for one high-dose psilocybin session. Bend-based Lucid Cradle offers an eight-hour trip and six-hour integration session for $15,000.
These prices contradict Gov. Brown’s instructions to the psilocybin advisory board to “ensure equitable access to this therapy for anyone who might benefit from treatment, including Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Tribal, and communities of color.”
Though the plan forward isn’t set, as the OHA awaits new budget approvals from the state legislature program, employees are brainstorming alternative funding methods.
Minnesota takes steps to legalize, emphasizes harm-reduction
Over in the Midwest, Minnesota’s Governor signed two psychedelic-related bills into law. Senate Bill 2995 covers healthcare in the state and contains a provision that establishes a Psychedelic Medicine Task Force.
The Task Force will advise lawmakers as they seek to legalize and regulate medicinal use. Members would use the current scientific data on psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD, reassess state laws, and make adjustment recommendations to ensure a smooth transition out of prohibition.
Tribal leaders, the health commissioner, the governor, and the state attorney general are slotted to make up the Task Force. People with experience in substance abuse treatment, military veterans, and public health policy are also on the list.
Governor Tim Walz also signed a corresponding bill to make Minnesota the second state to approve safe consumption sites to reduce overdose deaths, a conscious policy shift from criminalizing addiction to reducing harm. These psychedelic policy updates come as Gov. Walz prepares to sign a Senate-approved cannabis legalization bill.
European nations seek information on mental health and psychedelics
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) announced an Action Group (AG) for the Medical Use of Psychedelics. MEPs hope to initiate conversations on the development of widely accepted psychedelic treatments. The MEP AG mentions a focus on mental health issues, citing alcohol use disorder and depression as conditions of interest.
This group will organize periodic meetings to discuss developing psychedelic policy and treatments driven towards patient safety. They will serve as an educational resource for policymakers and regulators moving forward. Additionally, the AG will promote cooperation on the matter across the European Union to roll out a regulatory framework accepted by multiple nations.
Representatives from Malta, Czechia, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Poland have joined so far as the MEP AG accepts new members.
Psychedelic prohibition is slowly lifting in specific locations as states enter different phases of legalizing plant-based entheogens. With European leaders entering the conversation normalization is becoming a reality, and more patients are gaining access to cutting edge treatments.