Missouri lawmakers recently approved a Republican-led bill to expand research on the therapeutic benefits of certain psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine. If passed, the bill would legalize psychedelic-assisted therapy for certain patients, while expanding legal protections and promoting research efforts under the state’s existing “right to try” law for people with serious chronic conditions.
House Bill 1154
HB 1154 was introduced by Representative Dan Houx (R) back in February of this year. It has moved through several committees and now the full chamber has granted initial approval to an amended version, which is expected to pass and move to the Senate for a vote sometime next week. Houx mentioned that he’s very pleased with the turnout so far, stating on the floor prior to the vote that “psilocybin is a natural substance that is helping our veterans throughout the state and throughout the country—actually around the world.”
Chairman Dave Griffith (R), who has been involved with the bill since early on, that he’s not only excited, but also very surprised how drastically the discussion around psychedelics has shifted over the years. “If you had told me five years ago that I would be chairing a committee and considering a bill about psychedelics for veterans, I would have thought you were crazy,” he said. “This speaks volumes that such ‘out-there’ discussions can now even approach reality and trigger meaningful change.”
Initially, the proposal focused on semi-equal expansion of three different hallucinogens – psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine – but new revisions, at the request of some of the bill’s sponsors, tightened the parameters around the latter two substances while broadening provisions for people who use, possess, cultivate, distribute, and administer psilocybin products.
The legislation would allow Missouri’s Department of Health and Human Services to work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct studies on how hallucinogenic drugs can be used to help mediate certain mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, and severe depression, as well conditions related to end-of-life care.
So far, the plan will be that patients can receive psilocybin treatments for a maximum of one-year, with the treatment capped at 150 milligrams. There will be options for qualifying patients to continue treatments in ongoing, one-year intervals.
Additionally, there will be some more legal protections laid out to protect industry participants from local or state prosecution. These protections will extend to patients, prescribers, regulators, and state agency officials who are conducting lawful activity under the new regulations.
House Bill 869
Also discussed, but not yet advanced, was HB 869 – a bill introduced by Representative Tony Lovasco (R). The goal of this proposal was to “provide those who use psilocybin to treat certain conditions an affirmative defense against prosecution”; although members of the committee ultimately decided not to work this one in.
The bill states that, “The medical use of natural medicine by eligible patients and their caregivers is allowed under state and local law in accordance with this section. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the medical use of natural medicine by an eligible patient or caregiver in compliance with this section is not subject to criminal or civil liability under the laws of this state.”
While HB 869 would not legalize magic mushrooms, it would allow people to possess up to 4 grams of psilocybin and provide an added layer of protection to doctors who prescribe products containing it. Furthermore, the DHSS would oversee the whole operation to guarantee that products are safe and effective. Houx stated that although he believed Lovasco’s measure went “too far”, he still plans to collaborate with him to draft an amendment they can both agree on.
The way Missouri has been rocking their adult-use cannabis market, it’s no surprise they’re on the right path with psychedelics as well. So far this year, we have seen incredible progress on this front nationwide, with over a dozen states having proposed new laws to decriminalize and expand research programs on hallucinogens. But what’s interesting about this bill in Missouri is that it’s led and sponsored by Republicans, who are known as generally being more conservative in regard to these issues. But it shows that psychedelic reform, and especially, psychedelic-assisted therapy, is receiving more bipartisan support in the US.
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