Georgia lawmakers approve bill to create psychedelics review committee

Georgia lawmakers on Tuesday 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 legislation, sponsored by House Appropriations Public Safety Subcommittee Chairman Bill Hitchens (R), was picked up by the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee and unanimously approved by a voice vote. The chair of this group, Rep. Heath Clark (right), is one of the co-sponsors of the measure.

Before the vote, lawmakers discussed the potential therapeutic value of psychedelics for veterans.

“I definitely have a place in my heart for people who have PTSD and who have been able to overcome it through this treatment,” Hitchens, a Vietnam War veteran, told fellow lawmakers. “It’s probably a real opportunity for some people to basically save their lives.”

Clark, the panel’s chairman, said “everyone here would agree that we are looking for opportunities to help veterans and build their capacity to be productive members after their service in this country.”

The resolution begins with a section that discusses the need for effective treatments for major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans.

The Emory Healthcare Veterans Program located in the state has “experience in both veteran and psychedelic treatment, and studies show substantial evidence that supports psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of depressive disorders”, indicates the measurement text.

Rep. Josh Bonner (R), who serves as floor manager for Gov. Brian Kemp (R), said he thought the idea was “an admirable project.”

“Veterans seeking treatment…are willing to go anywhere they think there is a possibility of success,” he said. “I would definitely be in favor of hosting that kind of success here in Georgia.

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The resolution also notes that “current research on psilocybin trials excludes patients with a history of substance abuse, and research further indicates that psilocybin therapy may enhance sobriety-focused psychotherapy for addiction.”

There is no explicit reference to specific studies that the proposed House Study Committee on Alternative Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Resources for Veterans would be tasked with exploring; instead, the measure states that members “shall undertake a study of the conditions, needs, questions and problems mentioned above or relating thereto and recommend such action or legislation as the committee deems necessary or appropriate. “.

The new committee would include the chairman of the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee, two members appointed by the Speaker of the House, one of whom would be named chairman of the study group, and two members of the Department of Defense. of Veterans Affairs.

Before voting to approve the legislation, the committee passed an amendment to also add a representative from the Georgian Ministry of Public Health to the review committee.

“In the event that the committee adopts specific findings or recommendations including suggestions for proposed legislation, the Chair shall table a report thereon by the abolition date specified in this resolution,” the resolution reads. “In the event that the committee adopts a report that does not contain suggestions for proposed legislation, the chair must table the report.

There would be a tight turnaround time for any reports or recommendations, with the measure calling for the committee to be disbanded on December 1, 2022.

The bill now heads to the house rules committee ahead of a possible floor review.

Activists and lawmakers across the United States kicked into high gear on psychedelic policy reform this session.

For example, the governor of Utah signed a bill last week to create a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their legal use. .

A Missouri House committee also held a hearing last week on a GOP-led bill to legalize a broad range of psychedelics for therapeutic use in designated care settings while further decriminalizing low-level possession by general.

A Connecticut legislative committee this month approved a bill that would require the state 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 conduct a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms. A task force has since convened to investigate the matter.

A committee of the Maryland House of Delegates held a hearing this month on a bill to create a state fund that could be used to provide access to psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine to people. veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Washington State Legislature recently sent a budget bill to the governor’s office that includes a $200,000 funding proposal to support a new task force to study the possibility of legalizing psilocybin services in state, including the idea of ​​using current marijuana regulatory systems to track psychedelic mushrooms.

This month, Hawaii’s Senate approved a bill to create a state task force to study the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin mushrooms and develop a “long-term” plan to ensure the psychedelic is accessible for medical use by adults 21 years and older.

Also this 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 two drug decriminalization bills this month, including one focused on psilocybin and buprenorphine that would allow doctors to prescribe the psychedelic mushroom.

An Oregon Senate committee also recently introduced a bill to ensure fairness is built into the state’s landmark psilocybin therapeutic program that is being actively implemented after voter approval in 2020.

A bill to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelic substances in Virginia was considered by a House of Delegates panel in January, only to be pushed back until 2023. A separate Senate proposal to decriminalize psilocybin alone went on to was rejected by a key committee.

California Senator Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize possession of psychedelics has a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s office this year. He has already authorized the entire 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 experiments” by adults 21 and older.

Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania bill intended to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for certain mental health conditions could be at risk, with the sponsor saying the chairman of a key House committee is expressing reservations even after the legislation was changed in an effort. to build support.

New Hampshire lawmakers have introduced 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 veterans in partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine and a military medical center.

In a setback for the movement, California activists announced on Wednesday that they had failed to collect enough signatures to qualify a measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for the state’s November ballot, although they do not drop a future candidacy in the electoral cycle.

Activists in Colorado, meanwhile, recently selected one of four psychedelic reform ballot initiatives they drafted and filed for the November ballot, choosing to proceed with a measure to legalize psilocybin, create licensed “healing centers” where people can use the psychedelic for therapeutic purposes and provide a pathway for the sealing of records for previous convictions. A competing campaign filed another legalization of psychedelics last month.

Michigan activists have launched a mass signature campaign to place a measure on the statewide November ballot to legalize the possession, cultivation and sharing of psychedelics while implementing a system to their therapeutic and spiritual use. The State Board of State Solicitors certified the latest version of the initiative last week.

Locally, a third Michigan city, Hazel Park, this week approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelics.

At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last month urging the agency to allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an experimental treatment without fear of federal prosecution.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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