New Bipartisan Washington Bill Would Legalize Psilocybin Therapy For Veterans And First Responders

January 9, 2024 · Marijuana Moment

Bipartisan Washington State lawmakers prefiled a Senate bill last week that would allow nonprofits to provide psilocybin services to clients 21 and older so long as the organizations “have an explicit goal of promoting wellness for and assisting military veterans or first responders.”

Sponsored by Sens. Jesse Salomon (D) and Ann Rivers (R), SB 5977 appears to build on the state’s limited psychedelics pilot program signed into law last year, which is also aimed at serving veterans and first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters, coroners, medical examiners and emergency medical personnel.

The new limited measure would require nonprofits to use psychedelics facilitators licensed “by the state of Oregon, or another state with with a state facilitator license and licensure requirements that meet or exceed the Oregon state requirements with regard to required training, background checks, and licensing examination.”

Participants, the bill says explicitly, must be “21 years of age or older and a military veteran or first responder.”

Certain safety precautions would also need to be taken under the bill. Providers would need to develop transportation plans for each participant, for example, and “make reasonable efforts to prevent participants from operating a motor vehicle at the conclusion of an administration session.”

Notably, if a client’s failure to follow a transportation plan creates a safety issue, the legislation says, “the nonprofit must make reasonable efforts to resolve the safety issue.”

Facilitators would also need to develop a screening process to confirm that participants don’t have medical or psychiatric concerns that might interact negatively with psychedelics, which would include questions about current medications, current and past allergies, whether the participant is pregnant or breast feeding, a participant’s mental health history, a participant’s risk of harming themself or other, whether a participant has had a traumatic brain injury and any other language, mobility or medical assistance issues.

While providers could generally not charge participants for psilocybin or psilocybin services under the bill, they “may charge a participant the at cost rate for the screening” process required as part of therapy.

Certain people would also be barred from accessing psilocybin services, including those who have taken lithium within 30 days, are having thoughts of hurting themselves or others or have a variety of health conditions, including schizophrenia, active psychosis, bipolar I disorder, uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease or heart arrhythmia.

Others, including those on antidepressants or in treatment for mental health conditions “must be encouraged to consult a medical, clinical, or other health care provider regarding the risk of consuming psilocybin.”

Certain other preexisting conditions, such as antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder, carry additional requirements. People with those personality disorders, for example, would need to attend “a minimum of six integration sessions and the nonprofit organization must provide a referral to a licensed mental health provider for consultation postadministration.”

All facilitated psilocybin use would need to include at least three preparation sessions, one administration session and at least three post-administration integration sessions.

The legislation is another attempt at psychedelics reform from Salomon, one of the lawmakers who previously sponsored SB 5263, which created the state’s limited psilocybin pilot program. That measure began the session as a much broader legalization proposal and would have allowed adults 21 and older to lawfully use psilocybin under the care of trained, state-licensed facilitators—similar to the system approved by Oregon voters in 2020.

The new bill comes as grassroots efforts across the state seek to decriminalize psychedelics at the local level by deprioritizing enforcement of state laws against the substances. Organizers in at least six Washington cities are working to enact the reform, which they also see as a way to build support for change at the state level.

Another bill recently introduced as the state’s legislative session kicks off this month would roll back recently enacted protections for job applicants who use marijuana. Specifically, the proposal would undo the anti-discrimination protections for people seeking to work in the drug treatment industry.

A national poll published last year found that a majority of U.S. voters support legal access to psychedelics therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.

A 2022 analysis published in an American Medical Association journal, meanwhile, concluded based on statistical modeling of policy trends that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037.

Separately, a Washington state doctor is challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration in federal court in an effort to be able to provide psilocybin-assisted end-of-life care to patients with cancer. (Full Story)

In categories:Politics Psychedelics
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