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As the psychedelic renaissance contributes to a swelling pool of safety and efficacy data pertaining to the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic medicine, many localities—particularly in North America—are revising their legal frameworks.
This is happening in a number of ways: from the least rigorous incarnation which involves making the enforcement of psychedelics’ illegality the lowest law enforcement priority in a given city (such as in Washington, DC), right through to state-wide legalization of specific psychedelics (such as in Oregon).
A number of U.S. cities and states have moved to loosen the consequences for personal use or small, noncommercial amounts of psychedelics. Denver, CO became the first city in May 2019, with two Californian cities—Oakland and Santa Cruz—following suit. Psilocybin and psychedelic drugs are still illegal in those jurisdictions under state law, so it is inaccurate to say it is “decriminalized.” But those local governments have taken steps to deprioritize enforcing criminal penalties there.
The map below seeks to track these initiatives.
Last updated: December 6, 2022.
All states and jurisdictions that have made steps toward drug reform policies with regard to psychedelics are discussed below, ordered alphabetically by state.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to include two separate psychedelic research related provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
On July 13, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted two separate amendments to the NDAA offered from opposite sides of the aisle. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) proposed an amendment, which if approved would authorize the Secretary of Defense to approve grants for research into the therapeutic application of 5-MeO-DMT for active-duty military personnel diagnosed with PTSD. Additionally, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) offered an amendment that would expand a prior approved provision sponsored by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) directed a study into the therapeutic use of cannabis as an opioid alternative to treat veterans diagnosed with PTSD, and other neurological or pain related symptoms. Rep. AOC’s proposal would expand Rep. Moulton’s sponsored study to include MDMA.
On November 17, 2022 Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Breakthrough Therapies Act, which would make several amendments to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) aimed at lowering barriers to accessing controlled substances for research and medicinal purposes. Importantly, the Breakthrough Therapies Act would also reclassify Schedule I substances that receive breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA or qualify for a waiver under the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act to Schedule II. However, once a drug receives full FDA approval, all non-approved forms of the substance may revert back to Schedule I.
The Breakthrough Therapies Act would also amend the registration process and requirements for researchers investigating Schedule I or II substances. If passed, researchers seeking registration will either be registered or denied within 45 days of submitting an application. The Breakthrough Therapy Act would also amend the CSA to allow separate researchers in the same institution to conduct research with Schedule I or II substances without obtaining a separate registration. It would also amend the CSA to make a single registration sufficient for an entity to conduct research that occurs at multiple sites “within the same city or county and under the control of the same institution, organization or agency.” Additionally, the Breakthrough Therapies Act would streamline the research approval process by allowing registered researchers who submit all required information to the Attorney General to begin conducting research with controlled substances in Schedule I or II 30 days after the required information is submitted.
Also on November 17, 2022, Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI) announced that they will co-chair the Congressional Psychedelics Advancing Clinical Treatments (PACT) which will investigate clinical research into the efficacy of psychedelics as therapeutics, support increased federal funding for psychedelic research, and educate Congress about psychedelics.
Resolutions unanimously passed in the cities of Oakland and Santa Cruz have made personal use and possession of certain psychedelics the lowest law enforcement priority. SB-519, which would have legalized personal use and possession at the state level, was approved by the full Senate after multiple amendments, but failed to win enough support to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and was put on hold until the January 2022 session.
On February 17, 2021 Senator Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 519, which would remove criminal penalties for the possession for personal use and social sharing of psilocybin, psilocyn, MDMA, LSD, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline (excluding peyote).
Ketamine was initially included in the list of compounds, but was removed in the Assembly by committee amendment. The bill also originally included provisions to dismiss and seal prior drug convictions that would no longer be unlawful; that language was removed in the Senate.
After being approved by the full Senate (21-16) on June 1, 2021, SB519 failed to win enough support in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, and on August 26th Senator Wiener announced that the vote would be delayed until the January 2022 session.
In June 2019, the City Council of Oakland, California, unanimously passed Resolution No. 87731 CMS resolving that no “city funds or resources” can be used “to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults.” It also calls upon the District Attorney to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use of Entheogenic Plants or plant-based compounds,” and declares that “the investigation and arrest of adult persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority.”
On December 15, 2020, the City Council of Oakland unanimously passed and adopted Resolution No. 88464 CMS urging the state legislature to immediately enact state laws that decriminalize or legalize the possession and use of entheogenic plants and fungi; to allow local jurisdictions to authorize its citizens to engage in community-based healing ceremonies involving the use of entheogenic plants and fungi without risk of arrest and state prosecution, when practiced in accordance with safe practice guidelines and principles; and that provide legal protections against criminal prosecution for local jurisdictions their elected and appointed officials, practitioners and users operating in accordance with the Oakland Community Healing Initiative (OCHI).
The City of Santa Cruz held a city council meeting on September 14, 2021 and Resolution No. NS-29,867 was adopted declaring that the investigation and arrest of individuals twenty-one (21) years of age and older involved with the adult personal use and personal possession of entheogenic psychoactive plants and fungi listed on the Federal Schedule 1 list be amongst the lowest priorities for the City of Santa Cruz, and rescinding previous Resolution No. NS-29,623.
On July, 26, 2022, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced a resolution that, if passed, would urge law enforcement officials to make “the investigation and arrest of individuals involved with the adult use of Entheogenic Plants on the Federal Schedule 1 List” among “the lowest priority for the City and County of San Francisco.”
In 2019, the Berkeley City Council considered a resolution sponsored by Decriminalize Nature, which would have forbid city officials from using city resources to enforce criminal penalties for possession of “entheogenic plants.” The term entheogenic plants was defined to include “plants and natural sources such as mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and/or extracted combinations of plants similar to ayahuasca; and limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines.” This resolution was referred to the Berkeley Community Health Commission for feedback.
On November 29, 2022, the Berkeley Community Health Commission unanimously decided to recommend an amended version of the 2019 resolution for consideration by the City Council. Since 2019, Berkeley Community Health Commissioners Karma Smart and Josh Holcomb Adams rewrote the resolution, originally sponsored by Decriminalize Nature. The revised version would direct city officials not to use any city funds to enforce criminal penalties related to the possession and personal use of “psychedelic drugs.” The term “psychedelic drugs” is defined to include “the ‘classic psychedelics’ LSD, psilocybin, DMT, mescaline and all other compounds that exert similar psychoactive effects through stimulation of the 5-HT2A receptor.” The resolution specifically excludes peyote, MDMA, ibogaine and ketamine from the definition of psychedelics. This measure would not have decriminalized sharing, gifting, or selling the covered substances. Unhappy with the changes, the amended resolution no longer has the support of its original sponsors.
In a historic vote, Coloradans passed Proposition 122, becoming the second state in the U.S. to legalize psychedelics and treatment centers for their use.
In 2019, Denver Colorado became the first city in the U.S. to deprioritize law enforcement for possession of psilocybin mushrooms with the passage of Initiative 301, which states that personal possession of mushrooms is the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority.” The initiative prevents law enforcement from using city funds for criminal law enforcement of the personal use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms by adults. However, Initiative 301 did not legalize psilocybin mushrooms.
On March 1, 2020, HB19-1263 went into effect state-wide. The act makes possession of 4 grams or less of a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II a level 1 drug misdemeanor; except that possession of any amount of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or a fourth or subsequent offense for possession of 4 grams or less of a schedule I or II controlled substance or any amount of a schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance is a level 4 drug felony.
Building off this momentum, in December of 2021, Colorado activists Kevin Matthews, the former campaign manager behind Initiative 301, and Veronica Perez introduced two nearly identical ballot measures, Initiative 49 and Initiative 50, which proposed creating psychedelic treatment centers. Initiative 50 would have legalized the cultivation, possession and use of psilocybin and psilocin as “natural medicine.” Initiative 49 would also have included ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, and mescaline (excluding peyote) as legal “natural medicines.” However, support for both measures was discontinued, as activists opted to revise the proposed initiatives.
In January 2022, activists filed Initiative 58 and Initiative 59, which are revised versions of the “Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022,” previously proposed in Initiatives 49 and 50. On July 21, 2022, it was announced that Initiative 58 received enough signatures to qualify for the 2022 general election ballot. It appeared as Proposition 122, the Decriminalization and Regulated Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative. Initiative 59 expired.
In January 2022 activists with Decriminalize Nature Boulder County filed Initiative 61. This initiative would have legalized the cultivation, possession and use of psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine, mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine by people aged 21 and older. However, Initiative 61 failed to garner the required number of signatures and did not appear on the 2022 general election ballot.
Also in January 2022, State Senator Joann Ginal (D) and Representative Alex Valdez (D) introduced HB 22-1116, which proposed to create a panel charged with investigating the possible uses of plant-based medicines in mental health treatment. The panel would have had one year to report its findings and policy recommendations to Colorado’s legislative committees. However, on April 5, 2022, the Colorado House decided to postpone the bill indefinitely.
On March 28, 2022, HB 22-1344 was introduced into the House and assigned to the Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services committee. The bill states that if the United States food and drug administration approves a prescription medicine that contains 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and if that medicine has been placed on a schedule of the federal “Controlled Substances Act”, other than schedule I, or has been exempted from one or more provisions of such act, then thereafter prescribing, dispensing, transporting, possessing, and using that prescription drug is legal in Colorado in connection with MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD and other comorbidities. The bill passed the third reading in the House on April 8, 2022, and in the Senate on April 29, 2022. On June 8, 2022, Governor Jared Polis (D) signed HB 22-1344 into law.
On April 5, 2022, the members of the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to postpone HB22-1116 indefinitely. In view of proposed ballot initiatives, like Proposition 122 , Rep. Valdez requested the removal of HB22-1116 from consideration which prompted the committee vote.
On April 11, 2022, the city of Aspen approved a petition for a proposed ballot measure, which would make enforcing laws related to the “therapeutic use” of “plant medicines,” such as “ayahuasca, ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin or psilocin” the “lowest law enforcement priority in the City of Aspen.” The term “therapeutic use” includes the “possession, storage, planting, cultivating, and transporting of plant medicines” by an adult over the age of 21. The organization behind the proposed measure, Right to Heal, had until October 11, 2022, to submit the required number of signatures to get the measure included on the ballot for the March, 2023 election.
On November 8, 2022, the voters of Colorado passed Proposition 122, making Colorado the second state in the country to enact a regulated access program for psychedelics. Proposition 122 will establish the Natural Medicine Advisory Board which will advise Colorado regulators on the creation of state sanctioned “healing centers.” The proposition will also allow individuals over 21 years old to obtain access to “natural medicines” at “healing centers.” The proposition defines the term “natural medicine” to initially include only psilocybin and psilocyn. However, the term would be expanded on June 1, 2026, to include dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, and mescaline (excluding peyote). The Department of Regulatory Agencies (the Department) will have until January 1, 2024, to “establish the qualifications, education, and training requirements that facilitators must meet prior to providing natural medicine services.” Further, no later than September 30, 2024, “the Department shall adopt rules necessary to implement the regulated natural medicine access program and shall begin accepting applications for licensure by the date with decisions made on all licensing applications within 60 days of receiving the application.” The specific administrative rules that are passed in the coming years will be important because they will have a large impact on exactly what regulated access looks like in Colorado.
A law passed in June 2021 convened a working group to study the medical use of psilocybin.
On June 7, 2021, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 1083 that calls upon the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to convene a working group “to study the health benefits of psilocybin” and examine “whether the use of psilocybin by a person under the direction of a healthcare provider may be beneficial to the person’s physical or mental well-being.” The working group is directed to “submit a report on its findings and recommendations” no later than January 1, 2022.
On May 7, 2022, the Governor signed House Bill 5506 adjusting the state budget for the biennium, effective from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. This state budget bill specifically earmarked funds for psychedelic-assisted therapy programs administering psilocybin and MDMA treatments. Under the pilot program, veterans, retired first responders, and direct care health care worker can be qualified to receive MDMA-assisted or psilocybin-assisted therapy under the supervision of an approved federal Food and Drug Administration treatment site.
An appointed Connecticut Psychedelic Treatment Advisory Board will advise the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services “on the design and development of the regulations and infrastructure necessary to safely allow for therapeutic access to psychedelic-assisted therapy upon the legalization of MDMA, psilocybin and any other psychedelic compounds.”
Measure 81, approved in November 2020, made possession and non-commercial use of entheogenic plants and fungi the lowest law enforcement priority.
On November 3, 2020, D.C. residents approved Initiative Measure No. 81 which made “the investigation and arrest of persons 18 years of age or older, for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi” among the Metropolitan Police Department’s “lowest enforcement priorities.”
A bill was introduced in the Florida House to decriminalize personal use and possession of drugs. Bills have also been introduced in the House and Senate to research the medical benefits of psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine.
November 23, 2021 Representative Dotie Joseph (D) introduced HB 725, the “Collateral Consequences of Convictions and Decriminalization of Cannabis and All Drugs Act.” The bill states “Crimes associated with the personal usage and possession of controlled substances that do not involve production, distribution or sale shall be decriminalized in favor or civil fines and referral for drug rehabilitation.”
Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) and Representative Michael Grieco (D), the Ranking Minority Leader of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, have also introduced bills that would require officials in the state to “conduct a study to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of alternative therapies,” including MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine, to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and migraines. The bills, introduced as SB348 and HB193 (“Using Alternative Therapies to Treat Mental Health and Other Medical Conditions”), were modeled on the legislation enacted into law in Texas on June 18, 2021 (HB1802).
A different bill introduced in the previous legislative session (“The Florida Psilocybin Mental Health Care Act,” HB549), aimed to legalize and regulate the use of psilocybin for mental health treatment. That bill died on April 30, 2021 in the Professions & Public Health Subcommittee.
State law makers propose the formation of a committee to investigate psilocybin-assisted therapy.
On March 3, 2022, a group of bipartisan Georgia legislators proposed HR896, which would create the House Study Committee on Alternative Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Resources for Veterans. If formed, the five-member committee would “undertake a study of the conditions, needs, issues, and problems” related to utilizing psilocybin-assisted therapy to treat veterans suffering from PTSD or depression and for other purposes, such as to treat people struggling with addiction. The committee would also be empowered to “recommend any action or legislation which the committee deems necessary or appropriate.” The committee would have until December 1, 2022, to report its findings, after which it would be disbanded.
On March 30, 2022, the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee amended the composition of the proposed House Study Committee on Alternative Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Resources for Veterans to include an agent of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Following the adoption of this amendment, the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee voted to approve the legislation. It will now move to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.
On September 6, 2022, Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari referred Resolution 22-R-4257 to the Atlanta City Council for consideration. If passed, it would make “the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants, Fungi, and Spores or compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list” the lowest enforcement priority for the Atlanta Police department. “Entheogenic Plants, Fungi, and Spores” is defined as “the full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials and/or their extracted compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, and phenethylamines; that can benefit psychological and physical wellness, support and enhance religious and spiritual practices.” The resolution explicitly notes that it does not authorize the commercial sale or manufacture of Entheogenic Plants, Fungi, and Spores. On October 10, 2022, Atlanta City Council members decided not to advance the resolution; instead, it was determined by unanimous vote that the resolution would be held in committee for further consideration.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its medical use.
On January 22, 2021, Senate Bill 738 was introduced, which would remove psilocybin and psilocyn from the list of Schedule I substances and requires the Department of Health to establish designated treatment centers for their therapeutic administration. On February 23, 2021 it was deferred by the Judiciary Committee.
On March 12, 2021, House Concurrent Resolution No. 174 was introduced, which calls for a “Medicinal Psilocybin and Psilocin Working Group” to be established in the Health Department and for members to study the current laws governing psilocybin, the existing research related to the “safety and efficacy” of psychedelics for mental health treatment, and propose guidelines for medical professionals to “prescribe and provide psilocybin” to patients. The working group “is requested to develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the availability of medicinal psilocybin and psilocin or psilocybin-based and psilocin-based products that are safe, accessible, and affordable for adults twenty-one years of age or older.”
A parallel resolution (S.C.R. No. 208) was introduced in the Senate on March 12th, and adopted after amendment on March 31st.
On January 21, 2022, Senate Bill 2575 was introduced proposing to remove “psilocybin and psilocyn from the list of Schedule I substances” and “establish designated treatment centers for the therapeutic administration of psilocybin and psilocyn.” If enacted, this bill would also require the governor to “establish and convene a psilocybin review panel to review and assess the effects of this Act.” The panel would be mandated to provide a report, including any proposed legislation, to the legislature each year until 2027, at which point the panel would be disbanded.
On January 26, 2022, Senate Bill 3160 was proposed to have the Hawaii Department of Health create a “therapeutic psilocybin working group to examine the medicinal and therapeutic effects of psilocybin and develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the availability of therapeutic psilocybin or psilocybin-based products that are safe, accessible, and affordable for adults twenty-one years of age or older.” If formed, the therapeutic working group would be tasked with examining: laws and regulations related to the therapeutic use of psilocybin; available medical research pertaining to the safety and efficacy of psilocybin in treating mental health conditions; and the “requirements, specifications, and guidelines for a medical professional to prescribe and provide access to psilocybin to patients in jurisdictions where psilocybin is approved to treat mental health conditions.” On March 8, 2022, SB3160 was unanimously approved by the Hawaii State Senate and has advanced to the State House for further consideration.
On March 23, 2022, the Hawaii Senate approved two identical resolutions sponsored by Senator Chris Lee (D), SCR100 and SR88, which request that the Hawaii Department of Heath “convene a therapeutic psilocybin working group.” However, prior to approval, the Hawaii Senate amended the resolutions making access to psilocybin and psilocin dependent on FDA approval.
Two Illinois cities proposed measures relating to entheogenic plants, one in Chicago that failed, and another in Evanston that is still pending.
On January 28, 2020 Chicago’s Committee on Health and Human Relations heard R2019-735 an “Expression of support for adult use of Entheogenic Plants and call for hearing(s) to discuss findings from Department of Public Health on feasibility of use of Entheogenic Plants and its plant compounds as alternative treatment options.” The resolution was heard but not passed.
In November, 2022, Evanston, Illinois council member Devon Reid announced intentions to sponsor legislation in December 2022, which would decriminalize the “planting, cultivation, delivery, possession with intent to deliver, or possession of entheogenic plants and the derivative controlled substances,” making the penalty for any of the aforementioned conduct punishable by a civil fine not to exceed $100. However, the fine may be waived if the violator completes an approved rehabilitation program or performs some form of reasonable public service work. The proposed legislation notes that entheogenic plants include, but are not limited to, psilocybin, psilocyn, Lophophora williamsii, and Banisteriopsis caapi. This bill would also make the investigation or arrest of planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, or engaging in practices with or possessing entheogenic plants the lowest law enforcement priority.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize and legalize psilocybin, and separately to decriminalize certain psychedelics for patients with life-threatening illness.
HF459 aimed to remove psilocybin and psilocin from Schedule 1 controlled substances, but was indefinitely postponed on March 3, 2021.
HF636 was introduced February 23, 2021 and referred to the House Public Safety Committee. The bill proposes creating a Psilocybin Services Act to, in part, provide for regulated administration of psilocybin products to individuals 21 years of age and older in the state. The bill would deprioritize criminal prosecution of noncommercial activities related to entheogenic plants and compounds including ibogaine, DMT, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, and psilocin.
HF480 was introduced February 11, 2021 and referred to Human Resources. The bill proposes decriminalizing certain schedule I controlled substances, including DMT, LSD, peyote, psilocybin, psilocyn, and MDMA, for use by certain patients diagnosed with a terminal illness or a life-threatening disease or condition.
A Revived Legislative Effort Aimed at Reducing Penalties for Certain Scheduled Substances
On January 10, 2022, Kansas lawmaker Rep. Aaron Coleman (D) introduced HB 2465, aimed at reducing the penalty for individuals cultivating or possessing small quantities of certain controlled substances. This bill comes following a failed effort to pass similar legislation, HB 2288, introduced by the same legislator in February 2021.
If passed, the “Legalized Homegrown Mushroom Act of 2022,” as the new bill has been named, would decriminalize the cultivation and possession of less than 50g of psilocybin or psilocin. Additionally, the bill would make possession of 50-100g of psilocybin or psilocin a civil penalty carrying a maximum penalty of a $250 fine and possession of greater than 100g would be reclassified as a Class C misdemeanor carrying the stiffest consequences, a maximum fine of $500 and up to one month in jail.
Legislation was introduced to legalize therapeutic use of psilocybin, but failed in committee. Separate legislation to decriminalize personal possession of scheduled drugs was rejected in July 2021.
HP 713 (LD 967) would have made possession of scheduled drugs for personal use merely a civil penalty. That legislation was rejected by the Senate 14-18 on July 1, 2021, after being approved by a 77-62 vote in the House.
SP 496 (LD 1582), originally introduced in 2021 by Sen. Donna Bailey (D), would have enacted the Maine Psilocybin Services Act, and legalized the facilitated use of psilocybin at licensed service centers, similar to Oregon’s Psilocybin Services Act. On February 8, 2022, it was voted down 8-3 by the Health and Human Services Committee, despite Sen. Bailey offering to amend it to simply establish an advisory board to study the issue and consider psilocybin in palliative care. Rep. Michele Meyer (D), co-chair of the committee, said she couldn’t support a bill until FDA approval, and agreed with concerns about recreational use.
On April 19, 2022, the Maine Senate voted to pass SP496. However, shortly thereafter, the Maine House of Representatives declined to advance the proposal. Following the proposal’s stall in the Maine House, Senator Bailey indicated in an interview with Marijuana Moment that she intends to reintroduce the proposal in the next legislative session or potentially pursue a peoples’ referendum.
Both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly are considering bills that would decriminalize possession of several controlled substances.
On February 4, 2022, SB 709 was introduced and assigned to the Budget and Taxation and Finance committee. The bill establishes the Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder Alternative Therapies Fund as a special, nonlapsing fund, that is not subject to § 7–302 of the state finance and procurement article. The purpose of the fund is to support the department in studying the effectiveness of and improving access to alternative therapies for post–traumatic stress disorder in veterans. “Alternative therapies” includes hyperbaric oxygen therapy and psychedelics including 3,4–methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, and ketamine. The bill will take effect July 1, 2022.
On March 8 2022, HB 1054, and SB0784 were introduced which both propose to decriminalize possession of different “de minimis quantities of dangerous controlled substances,” including up to “40 user units of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),” and up to “1 gram or 5 tablets of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).” If either bill is enacted, possession of “de minimis quantities of dangerous substances” would be considered a civil offense carrying a maximum fine of $100 for a first offense, followed by a $150 maximum fine for a second offense. Third, and all subsequent offenses would result in a fine not to exceed $200. Under current laws, drug possession may carry prison terms and a fine of up to $5,000.
On April 8, 2022, Maryland lawmakers sent a SB0709 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.
On May 27, 2022, Maryland’s governor Larry Hogan (R) announced that he will allow SB0709 to take effect without his signature. The measure from Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D) passed unanimously through both chambers before being sent to his office.
Personal use and possession of entheogenic plants has been made the lowest law enforcement priority in the cities of Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton. Statewide legislation has been introduced to decriminalize personal drug possession, and separately to study the legalization of entheogenic plants and fungi.
On March 29, 2021, House Bill No. 1494 was introduced to establish an interagency task force to study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated entheogenic plants and fungi. It was referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
On the same day, March 29, 2021, House Bill No. 2119 was introduced to replace the criminal penalty for unlawful possession of certain controlled substances with “a civil fine of not more than fifty dollars or participation in a needs screening to identify health and other service needs, including but not limited to services that may address any problematic substance use and mental health conditions, lack of employment, housing, or food, and any need for civil legal services.” It was referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.
On January 14, 2021, the city of Somerville, Massachusetts unanimously approved Agenda Item 211137 which resolved that no “city funds or resources” shall be used “to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of entheogenic plants by adults.” It further resolved that “the investigation and arrest of adult persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants…shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority,” and called upon the District Attorney to “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use, possession, or distribution of entheogenic plants and the use or possession without the intent to distribute of any controlled substance.”
On February 3, 2021, the Cambridge City Council adopted (8-1) Policy Order POR 2021 #24, and on March 18, 2021 Northampton City Council adopted Resolution R021.207. Both contain language mirroring that of Somerville, although Northampton’s provisions also apply to minors.
On February 19, 2021, house member Mike Connolly introduced Bill H.1494, an Act establishing a task force to study equitable access to entheogenic plants. The legislation calls to establish an interagency task force to study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated entheogenic plants and fungi. The task force is to file a report of its findings and recommendations no later than June 2022.
On October 20, 2021, the Easthampton City Council passed a non-binding resolution (7-0, with two abstentions) states that “the arrest of persons for using or possessing controlled substances for personal adult therapeutic, excepting Lophophora and animal-derived controlled substances” and “the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distribution by caregivers, engaging in practices with, and/or possessing entheogenic plants, for the purpose of therapeutic purposes” “shall be amongst the lowest law enforcement priority.” The resolution also “calls upon the city’s officials to work in support of decriminalizing entheogenic plants and approaching all controlled substances first and primarily through the lens of public health and restorative racial justice.”
On June 13th, 2022, the Amherst City Counsel failed to pass A Resolution Protecting Adult Access to Plant Medicines & Prioritizing Public Health Responses to Controlled Substance Possession, which would have deprioritized enforcement of “possession of controlled substances by adults, except the use of endangered plants and animal-derived controlled substances.” Though the resolution did not pass, several counsel members indicated support for decriminalization, but did not view such action within the scope of their authority.
Personal use and possession of entheogenic plants has been made the lowest law enforcement priority in the city of Ann Arbor, Detroit, Hazel Park and in Washtenaw County, of which it is the seat. Legislation has also been introduced to decriminalize Schedule 1 and 2 substances and legalize “Natural Plants and Mushrooms” statewide.
On September 21, 2020, the City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan passed Resolution 20-1389 which resolved that “the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plants or plant compounds which are on the Federal Schedule 1 list shall be the lowest law enforcement priority,” that “city funds or resources shall not be used in any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the use of Entheogenic Plants,” and that the District Attorney should “cease prosecution of persons involved in the use of Entheogenic Plants or plant-based compounds.”
On January 12, 2021, Washtenaw County, of which Ann Arbor is the seat, resolved in Policy Directive 2021-06 that prosecutors must no longer file criminal charges for use, possession, and cultivation of entheogenic plants, and that purchasing, transporting, and distributing them would be the lowest law enforcement priority, with a “general presumption against filing criminal charges relating to the small-scale sale or distribution.” “The Prosecutor’s Office will, however, continue to prosecute cases involving operating a motor vehicle under the influence of entheogenic plants.”
On September 2, 2021, Michigan Senators Jeff Irwin (D) and Adam Hollier (D) introduced legislation that would amend state law to decriminalize the manufacture, creation, delivery, and possession of an “entheogenic plant or fungus,” including any natural material containing DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, and psilocybin. Commercial sales would be prohibited, however the bill would permit exchange of “a reasonable fee for counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service that is provided in conjunction with the use of an entheogenic plant or fungus under the guidance and supervision of an individual providing the service.” The legislation, SB 631, was referred to the committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
On September 28, 2021 the Grand Rapids City Commission adopted a resolution, which states “enforcement of laws regulating the possession and use of Entheogenic Plant and Fungi has not been a high priority for the City of Grand Rapids with very little public funds directed toward proactive investigation or prosecution of such case.” Further, the resolution specifies that the “Mayor and City Commission hereby support local, state and federal legislative efforts to decriminalize Entheogenic Plants and Fungi and plant-based compounds that are listed on the Federal Controlled Substances Schedule.”
On November 2, 2021 the voters of the City of Detroit accepted Proposal E to enact a city ordinance decriminalizing “the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults and make the personal possession and therapeutic use of Entheogenic Plants by adults the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority.” Entheogenic plants include “the full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials and/or their extracted compounds, limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, and phenethylamines.”
Prop E does not decriminalize sales or distribution but requires the Detroit Police Department to cease directing resources to investigating and prosecuting Detroit residents for personal possession and therapeutic use of those substances.
On February 1, 2022, reform activists proposed a ballot initiative that would overhaul Michigan drug laws. If passed, this initiative would decriminalize possession of Schedule 1 and 2 substances. Additionally, the initiative identified psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine, peyote, and dimethyltryptamine as “Natural Plants and Mushrooms,” which would be legal for anyone over 18 years old to cultivate, possess, use, or gift. A system of regulated sale and treatment would also be implemented. The initiative provides that entities designated by a hospital that have received a “Certificate of Need” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services may administer and sell “Natural Plants and Mushrooms” to patients possessing a “written recommendation” for services from a Michigan licensed physician. On June 1, 2022, activists behind the ballot initiative announced that the original target for inclusion on the ballot in 2022 has been deferred to 2024 to allow more time to gather the requisite signatures.
On March 22, 2022, the city council for the City of Hazel Park passed a resolution to decriminalize “Entheogenic Plants” which include “the full spectrum of plants, fungi, and natural materials and/or other extracted compounds, limited to those containing the following types if compounds: indole amines, tryptamines, phenethylamines; that can benefit psychological and physical wellness, support and enhance religious and spiritual practices, and can reestablish human’s inalienable and direct relationship to nature.” The resolution prohibits the use of city funds or resources to investigate, detain, arrest, or prosecute individuals found planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possessing Entheogenic Plant. However, the resolution specifically disallows “possessing or distributing these materials in schools, consumption, or usage by minors, driving under the influence of these materials, public disturbance, or commercial sales or manufacturing” of Entheogenic Plants.
On May 24, 2022, the East Lansing City Council voted 3-2 against passing a resolution, which would have made “the investigation and arrest of persons for planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with, or possession of Entheogenic Plants” among the lowest law enforcement priorities.
On September 13, 2022, the city council for the City of Hazel Park unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by councilmember Luke Londo, which designates September as “Entheogenic Plant and & Fungi Awareness Month.” Councilmember Londo stated in a recent interview discussing the designation that this “demonstrates our continued commitment to sensible policy, and hopefully signals to multiple cities in Michigan currently debating decriminalizing resolutions that there is widespread appeal and support for entheogenic plants and fungi.”
Legislation has been introduced to reduce the penalties for personal drug possession and allow certain psychedelics to be used by patients with life-threatening illness.
On January 1, 2022, Rep. Michael Davis (R) filed HB 2429, which was originally introduced February 18, 2021, as HB 1176. If passed, this bill would expand Missouri’s Right to Try Act to no longer prohibit people with terminal or life-threatening illnesses from using substances such as MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, DMT, mescaline or ibogaine with a doctor’s recommendation after exhausting all other approved treatment options, if they qualify as an “investigational drug.” The bill would also reduce penalties statewide for low-level possession of those drugs.
On January 18, 2022, with the introduction of HB 2469, Rep. Peter Meredith (D) proposed to decriminalize possession of small quantities of several scheduled substances, including MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin. Passage of this bill would create a three-tiered penalty system for possession of the outlined substances. For example, the penalty for “possession of not more than…one gram of MDMA,…forty units of LSD, [or] twelve grams of psilocybin” would be changed from a class D misdemeanor to “an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars or participation in a treatment program…or both.” Possession of more than these outlined quantities would be considered either a class A misdemeanor or a class D felony depending upon the exact amount.
On March 1, 2022, HB 2850 was introduced by Rep. Tony Lovasco (R) which proposes to legalize certain “natural medicines” including: ibogaine, psilocybin and psilocin if derived from fungi, DMT and mescaline excluding Lophophora williamsi (peyote) to treat a variety of medical conditions. The bill would also provide immunity to health care providers who recommend “natural medicines” to patients. The penalty for possession of “natural medicines” outside of the sanctioned medicinal uses would also be reduced. If enacted, possession of up to four grams of “natural medicines” would become a Class D misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a $500 fine.
Under a State Supreme Court case, the use of certain psychedelics may be protected under the New Hampshire state constitution if it properly qualifies as a religious practice.
In The State of New Hampshire v. Mack, the New Hampshire Supreme Court on December 22, 2020 vacated the conviction of a man found guilty of possession of psilocybin mushrooms, holding that the lower court failed to properly consider that his use was part of his religious practices, as a member of the Oratory of Mystical Sacraments branch of the Oklevueha Native American Church.
To determine whether a defendant’s use of psilocybin mushrooms is a protected religious practice, the court held that New Hampshire courts must follow a “balancing test” between religious liberty (e.g., the use of psilocybin mushrooms) and government interest (e.g., a criminal law prohibiting their use). Under this test, the defendant must first establish that the law substantially burdens a religious practice, and then the government has the burden to show that its action is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest and is narrowly tailored to do so. In its ruling, the court noted that New Hampshire’s state constitution is stronger than the federal constitution in upholding religious liberty, because it expressly protects not only religious belief but also religious practices. The court remanded the case back to the trial court to apply the balancing test.
On January 5, 2022, HB1349-FN was introduced to the House and referred to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee. The act would have decriminalized the possession or use of a certain amount of psilocybin mushrooms by a person 18 years of age or older. On March 31, 2022 the bill was ‘laid on the table.’
A bill passed in February 2021 reduced the penalty for possession of psilocybin for personal use.
On February 4, 2021, Senate Bill S3256 passed. The bill amended New Jersey state law solely to provide that “Possession of one ounce or less of psilocybin is a disorderly persons offense.” Such an offense is “punishable by up to up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.” Previously, possession of any amount of psilocybin was a third-degree crime punishable by 3-5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $35,000.
On June 23, 2022, Bill S2934 was introduced to the Senate and referred to Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committees. The primary sponsor is Senator Nicholas Scutari (D). The “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act” would authorize production and use of psilocybin to promote health and wellness; decriminalizes, and expunges past offenses involving, psilocybin production, possession, use, and distribution.
Growing fresh psilocybin mushrooms is not illegal drug “manufacturing” following a State Court of Appeals case.
In a 2005 decision, State of New Mexico v. Pratt, the Court of Appeals reversed a drug trafficking conviction, holding that “the act of growing mushrooms” alone was not the “manufacture” of a controlled substance. However, intent to manufacture and distribute mushrooms is still a felony, and “manufacture” “includes any packaging or repackaging of such substance or labeling or relabeling of its container.”
Legislation has been introduced to create a medical psilocybin program, to provide $2 million for psilocybin treatment of veterans and first responders, and to establish a public psychedelic research institute and research program. Separate decriminalization bills also have been introduced.
On December 13, 2021, Bill No. A8569 was introduced by Assemblymember Pat Burke (D), with the purpose of creating “psilocybin service centers to provide innovative treatment options for ailments such as PTSD, depression, alcohol dependency, anxiety, among others.” The bill would create a system for “Medical Use of Psilocybin,” similar to the one authorized in Oregon under Measure 109. Additionally, the bill would “create a $2 million fund for veterans, firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers who can apply for financial support towards treatment.”
An earlier bill, No. A7928, was introduced by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal on June 1, 2021 and referred to the Health Committee. This bill would establish a public psychedelic research institute and a psychedelic substances therapeutic research program.
Rosenthal has also sponsored an Assembly bill to decriminalize psilocybin—introduced first during the 2019-2020 legislative session, on April 15, 2020 (A10299); and again during the 2020-2021 legislative session, on March 8, 2021 (A6065). Neither has left the Health Committee, where each was first referred.
Another bill, introduced during the 2020-2021 legislative session in both the Assembly (A7109) and the Senate (S1284), would eliminate criminal and civil penalties for possession of controlled substances, and establish a drug decriminalization task force to develop recommendations for legal reform “with the stated goal of treating substance use disorder as a disease, rather than a criminal behavior.”
On October 3, 2022, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal reintroduced a heavily revised version of bill (A6065), which would have decriminalized psilocybin. The revised version of bill A6065 would remove state and local prohibitions on the “possession, use, cultivation, production, creation, analysis, gifting, exchange, or sharing by or between natural persons of twenty-one years of age or older of a natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogen,” including DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin, and psilocyn. Additionally, this bill would authorize “supervision, guidance, peers engaging in risk mitigation, religious, spiritual, or related supportive services with or without remuneration, by natural persons of twenty-one years of age or older to natural persons of twenty-one years of age or older who are engaging in the intentional and consenting use of natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens.” The bill would also direct state and local law enforcement to refrain from assisting or cooperating with the government of the United States in the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act relating to activities authorized under the bill, except as pursuant to a valid court order.
Legislation to reduce penalties for possession failed to reach a floor vote.
SB 3 would have reformed drug sentencing laws by reducing penalties from felonies to misdemeanors for certain drug possession convictions and by diverting certain offenders to treatment instead of prison. The bill was never brought up for a final floor vote.
In January 2022 State Representatives Logan Phillips (R) and Daniel Pae (R) introduced two bills that would promote scientific research into psilocybin-assisted therapy and help foster new clinical trials.
Introduced by Rep. Phillips, HB 3174 would create a clear pathway for “academic medical centers” and physicians licensed in Oklahoma to obtain certification to conduct clinical trials using psilocybin. The bill specifies that only veterans aged 18 or older suffering from various forms of mental illness may participate in the clinical trials.
Sponsored by Rep. Pae, HB 3414 also proposes increasing psilocybin research but provides an alternative approach which would allow anyone over 18 suffering from a list of specified conditions to participate in clinical trials. Additionally, this bill would decriminalize possession of small quantities of “psilocybin- or psilocin-containing fungi or plants,” making possession of less than 1.5 ounces, or approximately 42.5 grams, punishable by a civil penalty of $400 or less. On March 7, the republican-controlled House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 62-30, to pass the legislation, following which the bill moved to the Oklahoma Senate. On April 11, 2022, the Oklahoma Senate Committee on Health and Human Services voted in favor of passing HB 3414 after amendment. The committee amendment to HB 3414 removed the provisions that would have decriminalized possession of “psilocybin- or psilocin-containing mushrooms.”
In November 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy, and to decriminalize the personal possession of drugs. Now, Oregon lawmakers are hoping to create the “Task Force on Psilocybin Equity.”
Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to license and regulate the manufacturing, transportation, delivery, sale and purchase of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services. A two-year development period is allowed for from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022, during which the OHA will work with the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board to establish rules and regulations implementing Measure 109 and the use of psilocybin products and services. Applications related to the manufacture, sale and purchase of psilocybin products and the provision of psilocybin services will be accepted starting on January 2, 2023.
Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, went into effect on February 1, 2021. It reclassified personal possession of small amounts of drugs as a civil violation with a $100 fine, which can be avoided if the person agrees to seek treatment. For possession of slightly larger amounts of some drugs, the penalty was reduced from a felony to misdemeanor possession. Treatment services are to be funded by marijuana tax revenue. Criminal penalties still apply for commercial drug activities and possession of larger amounts.
Introduced in January 2022 by state lawmakers, SB 1580 would create a task force to investigate and make recommendations about how to address issues related to equity and access to psilocybin service under Oregon’s burgeoning psilocybin services program. The task force is charged with making recommendations about a variety of equity and access topics including how to address barriers keeping people of color and people who are low income from participating in Oregon’s burgeoning psilocybin services program as business owners, facilitators, or clients. If this bill is enacted, the task force would be required to report their findings no later than November 1, 2022.
Legislation has been introduced to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for PTSD and other mental health conditions.
On October 12, 2021, the Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act (HB 1959), was introduced by Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R) and 21 other co-sponsors, and referred to the Health Committee. A co-sponsorship memorandum with Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D) explains the legislation would “authoriz[e] clinical study of the efficacy and cost/benefit optimization of psilocybin-assisted therapy in the treatment of PTSD, traumatic brain injury and various mental health conditions, with prioritization of funding and treatment for veterans, first responders, and their families.” For purposes of the study, the legislation would also “authorize limited cultivation of psilocybin under the authority of state law.” The law passed in Texas on June 18, 2021 (HB 1802) was noted as a model.
On March 16, 2022, HB 2421 (previously HB 1959) was introduced by Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R) and referred to the Health committee. The Psilocybin Data Act provides for research and clinical studies of psilocybin and psilocybin-assisted therapy. The act provides a framework for research to discover innovative methods to optimize the public health benefits of psilocybin.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize minor drug possession.
On March 11, 2021, Senate Bill 604 was introduced. The bill would decriminalize minor drug possession, instead making it a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine, and the possibility of drug counseling and community service. Currently, possession is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. On March 25, 2021, the Judiciary Committee recommended the bill be held for further study.
On March 2, 2022, HB7715 was introduced proposing to build upon Rhode Island’s existing marijuana decriminalization policy by decriminalizing possession of psilocybin and buprenorphine. If passed, possession of up to one ounce of “buprenorphine, psilocybin and the substance classified as marijuana” would be exempted from criminal penalties associated with possession of scheduled substances. While “the substance classified as marijuana” is currently exempt from criminal penalties, possession of up to one ounce is considered a civil offense carrying a $150 fine and requiring forfeiture of the substance. However, as currently proposed, possession of up to one ounce of “psilocybin” or “buprenorphine” would not carry any civil penalty under this bill.
Additionally, HB7715 would allow “a practitioner in good faith and in the course of his or her professional practice” to “prescribe, and dispense psilocybin as a therapeutic.” Additionally, the Director of Health would be empowered to promulgate necessary rules and regulations to allow practitioners to prescribe psilocybin as a therapeutic in accordance with this bill.
On March 4, 2022, another bill proposing to decriminalize possession of certain drugs, HB 7896, was introduced. If enacted, this bill would decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of any “controlled substance classified in schedules I, II, III, IV, and V, except the substance classified as fentanyl.” Possession of up to one ounce of these controlled substances would result in a $100 fine for a first offense, and up to $300 for subsequent offenses.
A bill passed in June 2021 calls for a working group to study the therapeutic use of certain psychedelics.
On June 18, 2021, HB1802 became law. It will be in effect from September 1, 2021 until it expires September 1, 2023. The bill calls for a study led by the Department of State Health Services to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of alternative therapies including MDMA, psilocybin, and ketamine for the treatment of specific mental health and medical conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and migraines. The department will evaluate and compare the efficacy of these novel treatments with current treatments, and prepare and submit a report by December 1, 2022. $1.4 million was allocated to directly fund a clinical trial of psilocybin to treat PTSD in veterans.
A bill passed in March creates a task force to investigate the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.
On January 17, 2022, House Bill 167 was introduced by Utah State Rep. Brady Brammer (R). This bill proposed the creation of a task force charged with “provid[ing] evidence-based recommendations on any psychotherapy drug that the task force determines may enhance psychotherapy when treating a mental illness.”
On March 22, 2022, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed 64 bills into law, including HB167, which created the Mental Illness Psychotherapy Drug Task Force. The passage of this bill does not legalize or decriminalize any psychedelic compounds for medical or recreational use, instead it will position state law makers to be able to thoughtfully reconsider the role of certain scheduled compounds in mental health treatment. The legislation requires the task force to provide a written report of their findings to the Utah State Legislature’s Health and Human Services Interim Committee by October 31, 2022. The task force’s recommendations may pave the way for future legalization efforts.
Legislation has been introduced to decriminalize certain entheogenic plants and fungi, and separately to decriminalize personal use and possession of certain scheduled drugs.
On February 23, 2021, House Bill H.309 was introduced and referred to the Judiciary Committee. The bill would decriminalize compounds found in plants and fungi that are used for medicinal, spiritual, religious, or entheogenic purposes, including psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, DMT, and ibogaine.
On March 10, 2021, House Bill H.422 was introduced and referred to the Human Services Committee. The bill would decriminalize possession of “personal use supply” of certain drugs, in an amount to be determined by a Drug Use Standards Advisory Board established within the Department of Health—based on what is “commonly possessed for consumption by an individual for any therapeutic, medicinal, or recreational use,” and with the goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. Possession of drugs under such amounts would be a civil violation subject to a fine of up to $50 or a referral to a substance use screening and health service. Currently, personal possession carries criminal penalties of up to three years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines.
On January 14, 2022, House Bill H.644 was introduced and referred to the Judiciary Committee. This bill is an act relating to decriminalization of a personal use supply of a regulated drug. The bill proposes to change the penalties for possession of a personal use supply of drugs from a misdemeanor or low-level felony to a civil offense subject to a $50.00 penalty. A person cited for such an offense may avoid paying the penalty by agreeing to participate in a screening for substance use disorder treatment and related services. The bill would also establish the Drug Use Standards Advisory Board for the purpose of determining the benchmark personal use dosage and the benchmark personal use supply for regulated drugs with a goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. If the bill is passed, sections 5-14 will take effect on January 1, 2024.
Two pieces of legislation have been introduced that would decriminalize possession of certain scheduled drugs.
On January 11, 2022, SB 262 was introduced by State Senators Ghazala Hashmi (D) and Jennifer Boysko (D) to decriminalize possession of psilocybin and psilocin and referred to the committee on the Judiciary. The bill provides that any person 21 years of age or older who knowingly or intentionally possesses psilocybin or psilocyn shall be punished by a civil penalty of no more than $100 and such civil penalties shall be deposited into the Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund. Under current law, a person who knowingly or intentionally possesses psilocybin or psilocyn is guilty of a Class 5 felony. On January 31, 2022, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to change the status of the bill to “passed by indefinitely” . The committee may reconsider the legislation at a later meeting but if the committee takes no further action, the bill is dead.
Additionally, on January 12, 2022, State Representative Dawn Adams (D) introduced HB 898 which called for the decriminalization of peyote and ibogaine possession in addition to psilocybin and psilocin. If passed, this bill will reduce the penalty for possession of psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine and peyote for individuals aged 21 and over from a Class 5 felony to a civil offense carrying a maximum $100 fine.
Further, these bills both provide that “any civil penalties collected” for possession of the named scheduled substances “shall be deposited into the Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund.” This fund would be used by the state assembly to support various treatment programs for individuals struggling with substance abuse.
On January 24, 2022, HB 898 was shelved until 2023.
Effective July 2021, penalties for personal use and possession of scheduled drugs have been reduced in the state, for a period of two years. The Psilocybin Wellness and Opportunity Act is pending before the legislature and would legalize supported adult use of psilocybin.
January 5, 2022, Washington lawmakers introduced SB 5660, a bill that would legalize the supported adult use of psilocybin by people 21 years of age and older. Similar to Oregon’s Psilocybin Services Act, passed by voter ballot initiative under Measure 109 in 2020, the Psilocybin Wellness and Opportunity Act would enable the Washington Department of Health to issue licenses to psilocybin manufacturing facilities, testing labs, service centers, and facilitators. It would also create the Washington Psilocybin Advisory Board to advise the Department on creating rules for the Act’s implementation. Despite bipartisan interest in SB 5660, the bill failed to make it out of committee, though lawmakers are said to be likely to attempt similar reform measures soon.
Washington drug policy reform has been a hot topic in recent history, especially in relation to psychedelics:
February 25, 2021 in the case of State v. Blake the Washington Supreme Court briefly decriminalized drug possession by judicial decree, declaring felony criminal penalties for knowing or unknowing possession of controlled substances to be unconstitutional.
In response, Washington’s legislature overhauled the state’s drug possession statutes. Effective July 25, 2021, SB 5476 encourages law enforcement officers and prosecutors to divert first- and second-time possession offenders to assessment, drug treatment, and services. The law reduces the penalty for possession of a controlled substance to a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The penalty provisions expire after two years, giving lawmakers time to review the effects of the new policy.
October 4, 2021 Seattle City Council passed Resolution 32021 declaring that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of anyone engaging in entheogen-related activities “should be among The City of Seattle’s lowest enforcement priorities.” The resolution affirmed the Seattle Police Department’s existing enforcement practice to neither detain nor arrest individuals solely for suspected violations or for mere possession. The resolution also states the Council’s support for full state-wide decriminalization of certain entheogen-related activities.
Although the resolution expressed strident support for reduced enforcement policies, it did not alter existing city ordinances, municipal codes, nor did it legalize any controlled substances.
December 20, 2021, the City Council of Port Townsend, Washington unanimously approved Resolution No. 21-088, incorporating various additional comments and edits proposed by the Port Townsend Psychedelic Society. The resolution declares that “The investigation, arrest, and prosecution of adults engaging in entheogen related activities, including but not limited to the cultivation, gathering, and sharing of entheogens for use in religious, spiritual, healing, or personal growth practices, should be among the lowest enforcement priorities for the City of Port Townsend when done in a nonpublic place.” Additionally, the resolution goes on to forbid, “when reasonably possible,” all city departments, agencies, boards, commissions, officers or employees of the city, including without limitation, Port Townsend Police Department, from using any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the planting, cultivating, gathering, transporting, distributing, possessing, or using entheogens by adults. The resolution explicitly excludes the distribution and use of entheogens to anyone under the age of eighteen.
March 10, 2022, the Washington state legislature sent a state budget bill, SB 5693, to the governor’s desk that included 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. The proposed budget became effective on March 31, 2022. The work group will receive $50,000 of funding for FY 2022 and the remainder for FY 2023. A final report on the group’s findings must be submitted by December 2023.
Legislation that would have descheduled certain drugs died in committee.
On March 12, 2021 HB 3113 proposed removing certain substances from schedule I of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, including psilocybin. The bill made it as far as Health and Human Resources before the Legislature adjourned without assigning a future date for a meeting or hearing.
Reform of psychedelic drug laws and policies is complicated and progressing in different ways in different places. In order to provide a nuanced yet quick-reference overview, we place jurisdictions into a number of categories:
These general categories do not always completely capture the diverse nature of reforms underway. As such, we provide more detailed information for each city jurisdiction, which can be reviewed state-by-state above or by clicking a location on the map.
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