Wisconsin Lawmakers Push To Improve Veterans’ Access to Magic Mushrooms

November 28, 2023 · High Times

The legislation, co-sponsored by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, would create “a new separate nonlapsible trust fund designated as the medicinal psilocybin treatment fund and establishes a pilot program to study the effects of medicinal psilocybin treatment on patients with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD),” according to a summary of the bill.

The bill would require the pilot program to be established by “the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in collaboration with that institution’s Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances and its School of Pharmacy.” 

“The individuals eligible to participate in the pilot program must be veterans who are 21 years of age or older and who suffer from treatment-resistant PTSD. Individuals who are law enforcement officers are not eligible to participate in the pilot program study. The psilocybin therapy provided by the pilot program must be provided through pathways approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and the research accomplished in the pilot program may be accomplished in conjunction with other medications approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration,” the bill’s summary reads. 

“The board must ensure that no health information disclosed in the course of conducting the program contains personally identifiable information. The researchers conducting the program must create reports for the governor and the appropriate standing committees of the legislature regarding progress of the pilot program and the studies conducted as part of the program. The medicinal psilocybin treatment fund created in this bill consists of donations, gifts, grants, bequests, moneys transferred from the general fund, and all earnings and other investment income of the fund. This trust fund is managed by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. Moneys in the fund may be expended for the purpose for which any donation, gift, grant, or bequest is made and for the administration of the pilot program.”

As the research community increasingly highlights the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like mushrooms, military veterans in the United States have embraced the treatment –– even though it remains illegal under federal law.

A growing number of those veterans are going to Mexico, where they are able to obtain the psychedelic treatment options.

The inability for many U.S. veterans to receive those treatments is why Wisconsin state Sen. Jesse James, a Republican, introduced the bill there.

“Our federal government has failed us when it comes to marijuana and the psilocybin and all these other variants that are out there in doing these studies,” James, a veteran of the Gulf War, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “So, if states have to take it upon themselves to do it, then I guess that’s what we should be doing.”

James said that clinical trials in other states have showcased the promise of psilocybin mushrooms.

“(Patients) have higher energy levels, improved familial relationships with their loved ones,” James said, as quoted by Wisconsin Public Radio. “They’re communicating more, enhancing their work performance of all things. I mean, this is what excites me because this is what we need in our society right now.”

James is co-sponsoring the bill Democratic state Rep. Clinton Anderson.

“I think our veterans deserve the absolute best, and that includes us accessing other opportunities for treatment for them,” Anderson said, as quoted by Wisconsin Public Radio.

“Let’s try to find some alternatives to treatment for our veterans who serve our country,” Anderson continued. “And I think that’s something we should all be able to get behind. Otherwise, we’re just playing political theater when we talk about how important our veterans are.”

There have been similar displays of bipartisan support for such proposals on Capitol Hill. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican, introduced legislation this summer that would direct the Department of Defense to research psychedelics.

Crenshaw, a far-right conservative from Texas, noted that he had formed a “real wild coalition” with Ocasio-Ortez, the progressive from New York.

“Psychedelics have shown so much promise,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We desperately need the resources to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and depression. At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”

Officials at the state level are not waiting for Washington to act, however. 

Massachusetts Gov. Maura T. Healey filed a bill earlier this month featuring a proposal to research the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics for veterans.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and this transformative legislation marks an important step toward ensuring that Massachusetts supports them in return,” said Healey. “From day one, our administration has been committed to revitalizing veterans’ services in Massachusetts and ensuring that every one of these heroes receives the benefits, resources and support that they deserve.” (Full Story)

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