The Maine Senate this week approved a bill to to create a medical psilocybin program in the state, but the House of Representatives refused to go along.
The legislation from Sen. Donna Bailey (D), which was introduced around this time last year, would have allowed adults 21 and older to access the psychedelic if they received a doctor’s recommendation. It did not list specific qualifying conditions.
While the Senate passed the measure with amendments on Tuesday in a 20-13 vote, the House refused to go along, killing the proposed reform for the session. Still, the sponsor says she intends to bring the idea back up next year—or work to put the issue before voters on the ballot.
“I am thankful to my colleagues in the Senate for recognizing the urgent need for psilocybin therapy to be legally available to our veterans and others suffering from PTSD, those struggling with substance use disorder, and those in need of end of life palliative care,” Bailey told Marijuana Moment. “I am disappointed the House voted against helping folks who may benefit from the ‘reset’ value shown in numerous studies over many years.”
“The bill will certainly be back next session, or, if the legislature continues to refuse to act, perhaps in a peoples’ referendum,” the senator said. “People who are suffering need help now.”
As amended, here’s what the Psilocybin Patient Care Act would have accomplished:
Patients 21 and older would have been able to receive a doctor’s recommendation for psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.
Doctors would have needed to dictate the “amount of psilocybin a patient may need to treat or alleviate the patient’s medical condition.”
Regulators would have been required to create a “psilocybin service facilitator license” to provide treatment to eligible patients.
A Maine Psilocybin Advisory Board would have been established, comprised of 16 members, including the director of the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, director of the Office of Behavioral Health under the Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine attorney general and “various representatives of public health interests, among other related interests.”
The board would have had annual reporting requirements, and it would have further been tasked with making recommendations on additional rulemaking.
Regulators would have been required to adopt rules for the medical psilocybin program by January 15, 2025.
“We owe it to survivors to keep an open mind and explore all the possible means of easing their pain and helping them live full, satisfying lives in the wake of their traumatic experiences,” Bailey said on the Senate floor before the body’s vote. “From a medicinal point of view there are many benefits psilocybin therapy works rapidly and robustly within hours or days, that’s immediate quick relief.”
Rep. Michele Meyer (D), who chairs the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee where the bill was previously rejected in February, said her concern with the proposal lays with the fact that psilocybin has not been approved as a treatment option by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“It’s an important discussion,” she said. “This is a breakthrough therapy and it shows promise, but the science is not there yet.”
Last year, the Maine Senate defeated a House-passed bill that would have decriminalized possession of all currently illicit drugs.
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Meanwhile, the state hasseen strong marijuana sales since the adult-use program was implemented in 2020.
But while the psychedelics reform measure—which largely reflects a program that Oregon voters approved at the ballot in 2020—died this session in Maine, the issue is receiving significant attention elsewhere in legislatures across the country.
For example, Maryland lawmakers recently sent a bill to the governor that would create a state fund to provide “cost-free” access to psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.
A Colorado House committee approved a bill this month to align state statute to legalize MDMA prescriptions if and when the federal government ultimately permits such use. However, the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee also rejected separate legislation to create a psychedelics review panel to study substances like psilocybin and DMT and issue recommendations on possible policy changes.
Also this month, Georgia lawmakers advanced a bipartisan resolution that calls for the formation of a House study committee to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and make recommendations for reforms.
The governor of Utah last month signed a bill to create a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use.
A Missouri House committee also held a hearing last month on a GOP-led bill to legalize a wide range of psychedelics for therapeutic use at designated care facilities while further decriminalizing low-level possession in general.
A Connecticut legislative committee approved a bill last month that would set the state up to provide certain patients with access to psychedelic-assisted treatment with substances like MDMA and psilocybin. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed a separate bill last year that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. A workgroup has since been meeting to investigate the issue.
The Washington State legislature recently sent a budget bill to the governor’s desk that includes a proposal to direct $200,000 in funding to support a new workgroup to study the possibility of legalizing psilocybin services in the state, including the idea of using current marijuana regulatory systems to track psychedelic mushrooms.
Last month, the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to set up a state working group to study the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin mushrooms and develop a “long-term” plan to ensure that the psychedelic is accessible for medical use for adults 21 and older.
Also last month, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill to decriminalize low-level possession of psilocybin and promote research into the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.
Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a pair of drug decriminalization bills last month—including one focused on psilocybin and buprenorphine that would authorize doctors to prescribe the psychedelic mushroom.
An Oregon Senate committee also recently advanced a bill to ensure that equity is built into the state’s historic therapeutic psilocybin program that’s actively being implemented following voter approval in 2020.
A bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel in January, only to be pushed off until 2023. A separate Senate proposal to decriminalize psilocybin alone was later defeated in a key committee.
California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize psychedelics possession stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session.
Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation in January that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older.
Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania bill meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for certain mental health conditions may be in jeopardy, with the sponsor saying that the chair of a key House committee is expressing reservations even after the legislation was amended in an effort to build support.
New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs.
Legislation was also enacted by the Texas legislature last year requiring the state to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center.
At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in January, urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.
Image courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.