2024 kicks off with more states drafting psychedelic drug laws

Following the cannabis playbook, states aren’t waiting for the federal government to take the lead when it comes to psychedelic laws. Several states are taking it upon themselves to begin addressing their residents’ desires to use psychedelic plant medicines by drafting new laws.

Alaska

Alaskans want to create a task force to study potential psychedelic medicine laws. Democratic House of Representatives member Jennifer Armstrong in January introduced H.B. 228  – An Act establishing the Alaska mental health and psychedelic medicine task force; and providing for an effective date.

The task force would assess the potential use of psychedelic medicine in addressing the state’s ongoing mental health crisis, consider barriers to implementation and equitable access, and consider and recommend licensing and insurance requirements for practitioners in the state in the event that psychedelic medicines are federally reclassified and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The task force would also consider legal and regulatory pathways to the legalization of psychedelic medicines in the state and the potential effects of the medicines on public health. It has been referred to the Legislature’s House Special Committee on Military and Veterans’ Affairs.

California

California lawmakers reintroduced a bipartisan bill on Tuesday to make California the third state to legalize psychedelic-assisted therapy for adults. The proposed law would allow people 21 and older to consume psychedelic mushrooms under professional supervision. Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener (D – San Francisco) proposed the bill which made it through the legislature after years of going nowhere. It is part of an agenda to tackle the state’s mental health and substance use crises.

Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar piece of legislation in October, urging state lawmakers to take steps towards creating regulated treatment guidelines before attempting to decriminalize possession of these drugs. “It was a very thoughtful veto message,” said Wiener. If passed, California will follow in the footsteps of  Oregon and Colorado, which already passed ballot measures to legalize psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Hawaii

The island state introduced H.B. 2630, which would authorize and establish a regulatory framework for the administration of psilocybin for therapeutic use.

It was introduced in January 2024 and then sent to the state House Committee on Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs and the Committee on Health & Homelessness, which on Tuesday will hold a joint hearing at which the legislation is on the agenda.

The bill is scheduled to be heard at 2:00 PM. The Hawaiian Senate has another piece of psychedelic drug legislation, S.B. 3019, which has been sent to four committees in the Senate, but has had no hearings.

The bill states, “The legislature finds that, in clinical trials, psilocybin has shown promising potential for treating mental health conditions. Research suggests that psilocybin may be effective in reducing symptoms and improving outcomes for conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction. Studies have demonstrated psilocybin’s ability to induce profound and transformative experiences, leading to increased neural plasticity and psychological flexibility, reduced depressive and anxious states, and enhanced emotional processing. There is sufficient medical and anecdotal evidence to support the proposition that these conditions may respond favorably to the regulated and therapeutic use of psilocybin.”

Indiana

In January, lawmakers introduced S.B. 139 which would establish the therapeutic psilocybin research fund, administered by the Indiana Department of Health and provide financial assistance to research institutions in Indiana to study the use of psilocybin to treat mental health and other medical conditions. The bill also sets forth clinical study requirements and requires a research institution that receives a grant to conduct a clinical study to prepare and submit a report to the interim study committee on public health, behavioral health, and human services, the state department, and the division of mental health and addiction.

The law has moved quickly with two readings and has enjoyed bipartisan support.  Its next step is to go to the full Senate for consideration. It wouldn’t legalize consumer use, but instead open a pathway for research in the state.

Massachusetts

At the start of February, Massachusetts lawmakers introduced H.B. 4255 which would regulate and tax psychedelic natural substances and known as “The Natural Psychedelic Substances Act.” The bill was referred to the Special Joint Committee on Initiative Petitions.

The legislation seeks to create the Massachusetts natural psychedelic substances commission, which would have five commissioners. There would be a natural psychedelic substances advisory board to study and make recommendations to the psychedelic substances commission on the regulation and taxation of natural psychedelic substances.

It would set an excise tax on the sale of natural psychedelic substances to anyone other than a natural psychedelic substance licensee at a rate of 15% of the total sales price received by the seller as a consideration for the sale. Cities could also impose a tax, but it would be capped at 2% and while they can get involved in the placement of treatment centers, they can’t opt out of having them.

According to Law360, state lawmakers have until May to act on the proposal. Law360 wrote, “After that, the bill’s backers will need to gather an additional 12,429 signatures from registered voters before July 3 in order for the issue to appear before voters on the ballot in November.”

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


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