Texas Lawmakers File Three Bills To Expand State-Sponsored Psychedelics Research

March 13, 2023 ·

Texas lawmakers have filed a series of new bills aimed at promoting and expanding psychedelics research in the state.

The Lone Star State took some observers by surprise last session after the conservative legislature enacted a measure to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics—and now more legislators are hoping to build on that momentum.

Three Democratic lawmakers in the state recently introduced separate reform proposals, including one that would expand the law that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) allowed to take effect without his signature in 2021. The other two bills would create entirely new psychedelics-focused government bodies in the state to facilitate studies.

Here’s an overview of the newly filed measures:

HB 4288: Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (D)

The bill would amend the existing psychedelics law, which mandated 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.

The legislation would add “a facility licensed in this state that provides ketamine-related mental health services” to the list of potential partners in that research. It would also make it so studies could focus on “other identified individuals,” in addition to just veterans.

Under the bill, the commission and the college would need to “prescribe standardized protocols for each researcher or research organization participating in the study.” And it would further extend the deadline for the commission to file its final report and recommendations by two years, to December 1, 2026.

HB 4423: Rep. Josey Garcia (D)

The legislation would create a new Psilocybin Research Advisory Council to advise the Health and Human Services Commission and the legislature on psilocybin research and treatment.

Members of the advisory council would need to be appointed by the executive commissioner of health and human services by December 31, 2023 and would, at a minimum, include a physician with a federal license to study psychedelics, a military veteran, a law enforcement officer, a psychedelics researcher and representatives of state agencies.

The bill would also create a grants program administered by the council to support Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials using whole mushroom psilocybin to treat PTSD, long COVID, depression, anxiety, end-of-life stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance misuse, eating disorders, chronic pain and other conditions.

Grants would be awarded annually for a period of three years, and funded research would need to focus on veterans, first responders, frontline health care workers and people from underserved communities.

The council would make annual recommendations to the legislature on psychedelic-assisted therapy.

HB 4561: Rep. Julie Johnson (D)

The proposal would create a new Alternative Mental Health Therapy Research Consortium that would be charged with researching “the efficacy of providing mental health care through the provision of psychedelic drugs and ketamine, focusing on the provision of mental health care to veterans in this state through the use of those alternative therapies.”

The consortium would also administer a grants program to establish ketamine clinics in the state, as well as a voucher program to support veterans who wish to receive ketamine therapy.

Members appointed by the executive commissioner of health and human services would include academics focused on psychedelic therapy, representatives of health-related institutions providing alternative mental health therapies using ketamine, mental health professionals who specialize in treating veterans and representatives of psychedelics advocacy groups.

Separately, the bill would direct the commission to conduct a study on the efficacy of using substances like ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT to treat veterans who suffer from PTSD, depression and mild traumatic brain injury—and then submit a report with its findings and any recommendations to lawmakers by December 1, 2024. (Full Story)

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