First Colorado did it with a preemptive legalization of MDMA. Now, Connecticut is joining in with a new law to allow access to MDMA and psilocybin therapy, even before the US federal government legalizes them.
Connecticut is leading the way, with a new law that gives access to MDMA and psilocybin for those in need. This comprehensive news platform provides independent coverage of the cannabis and psychedelics landscapes, which you can follow along with by subscribing to the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter. This will also give you access to a ton of sweet deals on all types of merchandise like vapes and other smoking devices, edibles, a selection of cannabis paraphernalia, and cannabinoid compounds like the highly-popular Delta 8 & HHC. Head over to our ‘best of’ lists for the low-down, and pick the products that you’re most comfortable to use.
What’s that Connecticut? You’re allowing psychedelics?
Connecticut didn’t put forth a bill to officially legalize any psychedelics, but it did pass a new law that gives access to MDMA and psilocybin treatments for approved medical purposes. The law, Bill No. 5506, institutes a pilot program, which takes advantage of the FDA’s expanded access program, to provide drugs under investigation to those in need. This means a drug doesn’t need official approval for patients to gain access, it just has to make it through Phase I trials.
Connecticut didn’t do this through a psychedelics legalization bill, but rather through a tax bill. The bill passed with a final vote of 95 to 52, and in May of this year, Governor Ned Lamont signed it into law. The program is expected to begin in 2023. The pilot program would automatically end upon official approval of the compounds by the federal government. At that point, such medications will be legal in the country, and Connecticut will already have a framework for their use.
Much of the push for this law came from the testimony of military veterans, and others who gained positive results from these drugs. The first to benefit from this new program will be veterans, retired first responders, and front line workers; who don’t have any other options left in the medical industry to deal with their PTSD and depression issues. As of right now, there are about 100 individuals who are already ready to access this treatment.
Currently, MDMA and psilocybin are illegal compounds according to the federal government. However, both are undergoing trials which the federal government is 100% behind, even coordinating the trials with the companies in question. The FDA has already given ‘breakthrough therapy’ designations to three companies; two working with magic mushrooms (COMPASS Pathways, and USONA), and one with MDMA (MAPS).
This designation is specifically meant to get products to market faster when they offer a better option to currently approved treatments. The expanded access program widens this ability by letting patients in dire circumstances, access the medications while they’re still under research.
This expanded access program isn’t new, but it’s not always used. In a letter to congress, Reason for Hope (the non-profit associated with Connecticut’s initiative to get these drugs approved on some level) wrote on behalf of the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition, “clinicians generally hesitate to use the FDA’s expanded access program due to the time, cost, and administrative burden.”
And that, “The Connecticut Pilot Program offers a workable solution by providing a mechanism to share the administration and cost burden amongst treatment sites, while directly funding the treatment of a select number of qualified patients, development of a temporary regulatory infrastructure, coordination of treatment protocols, and collection of real-world data across treatment sites.”
What else does new Connecticut law for MDMA and psilocybin do?
Connecticut passed a law that allows access to MDMA and psilocybin, but doesn’t make them legal. So, what exactly does this mean? For one thing, the new law makes the Department of Consumer Services consider adopting the nonbinding guidelines of the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services, in relation to the use of psychedelic-assisted medicine. It also forces the establishment of the Connecticut Psychedelic Treatment Advisory Board, made up of nine experts who are appointed for the oversight of this new program.
The Connecticut bill for MDMA and psilocybin requires yet another organization to be established, the Qualified Patients for Approved Treatment Sites Fund, which can supply grants for these treatments to patients who qualify for the pilot program.
According to Jesse MacLachlan, the director of state policy and advocacy at Reason for Hope, “The role of the state is to help lay a policy groundwork to lay infrastructure so there are enough trained therapists for folks who need care most to receive it safely and affordably once these drugs are approved.”
As per Reason for Hope in its letter to lawmakers: “Given the enthusiasm at the federal and state level to better understand the treatments and to ensure they’re conducted in a safe and ethical manner, this is the occasion to learn from clinical use outside clinical trials.” The organization is looking to push similar measures in other states as well.
Is this like Colorado?
On June 8th, Colorado’s governor signed into law HB 1344 which preemptively legalized MDMA for medical use in the state. It also is not a formal legalization, although it will become one pending the US government officially approving an MDMA medication for medical use. Once this happens, the compound is already ready to go in the state, meaning the legalization is essentially lying in wait. What the legislation does, is allow the general system of use to be established now, and not after the federal government approves.
Connecticut did something a little different. For one thing, Colorado isn’t offering access to these medications now. Until MDMA gets a full approval, Colorado’s bill is null and void. It doesn’t help patients use the expanded access program, so it has no real value until the US government legalizes MDMA officially.
On the other hand, Connecticut is working to get the medications to those in need, before a federal approval is given. It didn’t construct a separate law for approval when the US government passes the drugs, because it doesn’t need to. Connecticut passed its bill to set up its framework, but once a drug is passed federally, the drug doesn’t need any further approval in the state. The pilot program in Connecticut would simply be supplanted by the federal government guidelines when they’re available, in a system already set-up to go.
In terms of Colorado, it’s HB 1344 went through the state’s congress at hyper speed, getting introduced and then signed by the governor into law, within two and a half months. It had bipartisan approval, much like Connecticut’s bill, and went through very few edits, even getting a unanimous vote for approval in one committee. This election, Colorado is putting it to voters via ballot measure, to decide if they want to decriminalize entheogenic plants, and create a regulated program for their use.
Connecticut’s bill actually came on the heels of a similar bill that failed. HB 5396 was introduced earlier this year, and would have also created the opening of psychedelic-assisted treatment centers. That bill died in a committee, and was reformulated and stuck in the tax bill, which passed not much later. By passing this legislation, Connecticut became the first state to allow medical access to these medications prior to a federal government pass.
Right now, no other state is allowing the use of psychedelics through the FDA’s expanded access program. Whereas Connecticut isn’t usually the first state to do something, this time it takes the cake. Connecticut did become the 18th state to legalize recreational cannabis last year, when Lamont signed off on SB 1201.
Its not shocking that another state is using the federal government’s moves toward psychedelic medicine, as a way to get its own industry started. And this time, it means using laws already in place, to provide access to unapproved drugs very soon. I expect more states will follow Colorado and Connecticut in how they’re dealing with MDMA and/or psilocybin. And realistically, even if they don’t, there should be federal approvals within the next couple years.
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