A Republican Utah lawmaker introduced a bill on Tuesday that would set up a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use.
Rep. Brady Brammer (R) filed the legislation. While there’s nothing in the text of the proposal that explicitly references psychedelics, it’s strongly implied—and Brammer separately talked in an interview about the measure as a tool to explore the use of substances like psilocybin.
The bill would create a Mental Illness Psychotherapy Drug Task Force that would be required to “study and make recommendations on drugs that may assist in treating mental illness.” The psychotherapy drugs that the panel would consider are defined as controlled substances that are “not currently available for legal use” and “may be able to treat, manage, or alleviate symptoms from mental illness.”
This is the latest example of psychedelics reform reaching state legislatures, including those that are traditionally conservative, as the local decriminalization movement continues to spread and more people are made aware of research into the therapeutic potential of these substances.
Brammer’s bill outlines who would be appointed to the task force, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, Utah Medical Association representative, a researcher, a person with a civil liberties organization, a patient with experience with psychotherapy drugs and more.
“The task force shall provide evidence-based recommendations on any psychotherapy drug that the task force determines may enhance psychotherapy when treating a mental illness,” the text of the measure states.
Recommendations should touch on the types of symptoms that a given drug may treat, dosage and administration, training and licensing, how to obtain the substance, safety requirements, data tracking and “proposed regulations the Legislature should consider if the psychotherapy drug is made legal for treating mental illness.”
The task force would need to submit a report with its recommendations to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee by October 31.
“We need effective tools to treat mental illness,” Brammer told KSL. “If psychedelics can be helpful and safely administered, we need them in our toolbox.”
“Utah has some of the finest researchers in the areas of psychiatry and neurosciences at Huntsman Mental Health Institute,” he said. “This bill seeks to leverage that expertise, along with other experts grappling with mental illness, to review the research results, and if appropriate, make recommendations on how to safely administer these therapeutics under the care of qualified physicians.”
Amid a mental health and drug overdose crisis, more lawmakers are expressing interest in taking a new approach to treatment that might involve psychedelics. Others are more generally interested in decriminalizing or legalizing the substances.
On Tuesday, for example, bipartisan congressional lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.
Virginia legislators introduced bills last week to decriminalize the possession of psychedelics.
A Kansas lawmaker also recently filed a bill to legalize the low-level possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms.
In Missouri, a Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD through an expanded version of the state’s existing right-to-try law.
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.
In Michigan, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.
Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation this month that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older.
In Vermont, a broad coalition of lawmakers representing nearly a third of the House introduced a bill to decriminalize drug possession.
New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs.
Last year, the governor of Connecticut signed legislation that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.
Similar legislation was also enacted in the Texas legislature, 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.
Voters in Oregon approved 2020 ballot measures to decriminalize all drugs and legalize psilocybin therapy.