New Jersey Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize Psychedelics

New Jersey lawmakers were able to legalize cannabis and now they have their sights set on psychedelics. District 22 State Sen. Nicholas Scutari sponsored legislation that would authorize the production and use of psilocybin to promote health and wellness, decriminalize the products, and expunge past offenses involving psilocybin production, possession, use, and distribution.

The proposed law states,

It is the intent of the Legislature to facilitate the establishment of safe, legal, and affordable psilocybin service centers to provide residents of New Jersey who are 21 years of age or older with opportunities for supported psilocybin experiences to alleviate distress, provide preventative behavioral health care, and foster wellness and personal growth.

Lawmakers tried to propose legislation in 2023 but pulled it to revise the language. Even though the legislation focuses mostly on mental health issues as a reason to legalize psychedelics, it does not rule out the use of psilocybin for recreational purposes.

The legislation also proposes establishing a Department of Health the Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Advisory Board with 18 members. There was also language to create a code of professional conduct for psilocybin service facilitators, with particular consideration for developing a code of ethics.

Licenses could cross the manufacturing and treatment center lines. However, there would limits on the number of licenses for individuals. They can’t have more than one psilocybin product manufacturer or more than five psilocybin service centers.

Fast Timeline

The Act also set ambitious timelines to be met once the law is enacted. It says that “No later than six months after the effective date of this act, the department shall establish the necessary forms and commence the process of accepting applications for and approving psilocybin service facilitator training programs. It also stated, “No later than 18 months after the effective date of this act, the department shall establish the necessary forms and commence the process of accepting applications for issuance of psilocybin product manufacturer, psilocybin service center operator, psilocybin testing laboratory, and psilocybin service facilitator licenses and psilocybin worker permits.”

Copying Cannabis

Similar to cannabis, psilocybin service centers can’t be located close to schools and can’t advertise their services in a way that would appeal to minors. There would also be a tracking system for the production of psilocybin products. The psilocybin department would also make these producers keep regulatory books on sight and available for inspection, not unlike cannabis producers.

There would be requirements on packaging and product testing. There would be fees attached to the licenses also like cannabis. The products would only be available to people over the age of 21 and the workers in any of these facilities must also be over the age of 21.

Social Opportunity

The law wrote that it wanted to create a social opportunity program for psilocybin. It would establish and administer an equitable access program to assist qualified economically disadvantaged individuals with the cost of receiving psilocybin services. The program would identify geographically distressed locations to identify social opportunity applicants.

Those who have a past conviction regarding these products could ask for a resentencing if the Act is passed.

Med Tech Corridor

New Jersey has actively courted medical companies to the state. Trade association BioNJ reported that the state had only 30 biotech companies in the early 1990s, but that has grown to approximately 3,200 establishments. Bio NJ said that 46 of those firms are responsible for 70 new FDA drug approvals between 2020 and 2021. 

It is also well-timed with this week’s announcement from Compass Pathways plc (NASDAQ: CMPS) that it is entering into a research collaboration with Hackensack Meridian Health, a leading not-for-profit health care organization and the largest, most comprehensive, and truly integrated network in New Jersey.

Compass said in a statement that the collaboration would seek to understand the real-world challenges and opportunities of delivering care to those living with depression, to inform how future clinical trials of COMP360 psilocybin treatment are designed, and to understand how it will be delivered to patients if approved.

“We’re proud to collaborate with Compass Pathways, a leading biotechnology company aiming to create real change for people suffering with some of the most difficult-to-treat mental health conditions,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Our network’s leadership in mental health and extensive experience in treating depression in clinical practice will inform how new mental health treatments may be accessed by patients in the future.”

“Our collaboration with Hackensack Meridian Health will help us understand how investigational COMP360 psilocybin treatment, if approved, could be delivered to patients, and represents another important milestone in our mission to provide better treatment options for people who urgently need them,” said Kabir Nath, CEO of Compass Pathways. “As one of the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care networks in the US, with a strong mission to improve clinical outcomes and transform healthcare delivery, HMH is a great collaboration partner for Compass.”

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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