The Connecticut House of Representatives has approved a bill to decriminalize possession of psilocybin mushrooms, sending it to the Senate.
The legislation—which was introduced by the Judiciary Committee and cleared that panel in March—passed the House in an 86-64 vote on Wednesday.
Under the measure, possession of up to half an ounce of psilocybin would be a civil infraction, punishable by a $150 fine. Subsequent violations could carry fines ranging from $200 to $500.
People who are found guilty three times under the policy would be referred to a drug education program.
As it stands, simple possession of psilocybin is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Connecticut, with penalties of up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.
Watch the Connecticut House discuss the psychedelics legislation, starting at 4:04:10 into the video below:
Researchers have found that psilocybin is a “promising treatment for some behavioral health conditions, including substance use, depression and palliative care for end of life anxiety and depression,” Rep. Steven Stafstrom (D), co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, said on the floor on Wednesday. However, “research to date on psilocybin continues to lag behind.”
As the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigates authorizing psilocybin as a therapeutic, the Connecticut bill represents an “interim” reform to “decriminalize small amounts of this so that we are not continuing to perpetrate the war on drugs and to incarcerate individuals for possession of very small amounts of this substance when we know it contains such medical uses,” Stafstrom said.
The bill, HB 6734, is now moving to the Senate for consideration before potentially being sent to the governor.
Connecticut has become something of a hub for psychedelics policy reform.
Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed a large-scale budget bill last year that includes provisions to set the state up to provide certain patients with access to psychedelic-assisted treatment using substances like MDMA and psilocybin.
A state lawmaker also introduced separate legislation this session that would appropriate a currently unspecified amount of state funds to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the current fiscal year to establish a “psychedelic-assisted therapy pilot program.”
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Lawmakers in states across the country have been working to enact psychedelics reform this session.
For example, Arizona lawmakers approved budget legislation on Wednesday that includes provisions to fund research into the medical potential of psilocybin mushrooms for a variety of conditions.
The governor of Washington State signed a bill on Tuesday to promote research into psilocybin and create a pilot program to provide therapeutic access to the psychedelic for mental health treatment.
Vermont lawmakers held a committee hearing last week where members discussed legislation to legalize psilocybin and take first steps toward providing regulated access to the psychedelic.
A California bill to legalize the possession of certain psychedelics and facilitated use of the substances is heading to the Senate floor under an accelerated process that is allowing it to skip further committee consideration.
The Minnesota House recently passed an omnibus health bill that contains provisions to create a psychedelics task force meant to prepare the state for possible legalization.
Last month, a Republican North Carolina lawmaker and a bipartisan group of cosponsors filed a bill to create a $5 million grant program to support research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and MDMA and to create a Breakthrough Therapies Research Advisory Board to oversee the effort.
A Nevada Senate committee approved a revised bill last month that would create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes.
The Hawaii Senate approved a bill last month to create an advisory council to look into possible regulations to provide access to federal “breakthrough therapies” like psilocybin and MDMA.
Oregon regulators recently approved the nation’s first license for a psilocybin service center where people will be able to use the psychedelic in a supervised and facilitated environment.
Meanwhile, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow told senators last week that there is emerging evidence that psychedelics carry “significant potential” as therapeutic treatments for certain mental health conditions, and it’s a topic of “great interest” for researchers.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
A national poll published in March found that a majority of U.S. voters support legal access to psychedelics therapy and back federally decriminalizing substances like psilocybin and MDMA.
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