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2023 Shaping Up to Be Busy Year for Psychedelics Legislation

2023 Shaping Up to Be Busy Year for Psychedelics Legislation

It’s going to be a big year for psychedelic legislation in the United States.

In 2023, we’ll see the end of an era in terms of psychedelic drug policy. The War on Drugs, which has been raging since 1971, is slowly being phased out of public zeitgeist, and with that change comes a new approach to how lawmakers and law enforcement treat psychedelics.

Psychedelic Reform In America

Psychedelics are making a comeback.

The time is nigh for a new wave of psychedelic legislation. Several states and cities have legalized psychedelics in the last few years, including Denver, CO, and Seattle, WA. Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019, while San Francisco and Oakland passed laws decriminalizing magic mushrooms in 2017. 

Legislators are now working on psychedelic reform legislation for the 2023 session, with ideas ranging from decriminalizing natural plants like cannabis or peyote to using psilocybin for medicinal purposes.

It’s hard to overstate how significant this is: when it comes to our laws and policies surrounding psychedelics, we’re finally entering a new era. 

We’re moving away from a system that criminalized psychedelics and punished people from various medical and religious backgrounds to one that appreciates the benefits psychedelics provide, and that’s inspiring news. 

California, Colorado, And Oregon Continuing Their Psychedelic Trajectories

A new era of legal psychedelics is upon us.

In recent years, Colorado and Oregon have led the way in legalizing psychedelics for therapeutic use. Now, California is following suit.

For those of you who don’t know what we’re talking about, here’s a quick rundown:

Colorado was the first state to see psychedelics decriminalized when the city of Denver decided to open itself up to psychedelics in 2019. Voters in the state approved a historic ballot initiative to legalize certain entheogenic substances and create psilocybin “healing centers” in November 2022. The state is seeking out people to join a first-of-its-kind advisory board as it looks to tackle some additional legislation that may be required before things get started.

Oregon voters legalized psychedelics statewide in 2020, but it has taken a few years for the state to launch the legal market—which means that some additional bills are being filed regarding the collection and use of data from these storefronts (and whether or not this should be regulated by law). 

California is a state that has long been at the forefront of psychedelic reform. Back in the 1960s and 70s, it was the home of the counterculture movement that introduced the world to LSD and other psychedelics. There are still some municipalities where you can legally partake in these substances.

For example, in Oakland and San Francisco, you can walk into a dispensary and purchase pot or mushrooms. And now Sen. Scott Wiener (D) has refiled a bill to legalize the possession of certain psychedelics. 

Wiener’s bill would legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation of” specific amounts of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline for personal or facilitated use. Notably, psychedelics like LSD and MDMA would not be legalized under this bill, which is a departure from the previously filed version.

Oakland and San Francisco,

Republican-Led Legislation Taking The Lead In Several States

It’s official: Republicans are leading the charge for medical psychedelics.

In several states, including Missouri, Montana, and Utah, Republicans are taking the lead on legislation allowing doctors to recommend psilocybin for patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression and PTSD.

Missouri Rep. Tony Lovasco (R) said his forthcoming legislation is narrowly tailored, providing access to psilocybin in a clinical setting for people with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, with a doctor’s recommendation.

Rep. George Nikolakakos (R) is spearheading a Montana initiative to research the medical properties of psychedelics. Utah’s Republican (and Mormon) majority recently announced their own psychedelic reform initiative, signaling an exciting future for many in red states. 

Shrooms On The East Coast

The East Coast is going psychedelic—and it’s about time.

In New York, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D) recently pre-filed a bill for 2023 to legalize certain psychedelics like psilocybin and ibogaine for adults 21 and older. Not only would this be a massive step in legalizing these substances, but it would also allow people to engage in psychedelic services “with or without remuneration” and use the entheogens in religious ceremonies.

New Jersey is building off their 2021 decriminalization measures and is working on legislation to create a legal psychedelics market and allow home cultivation. In Connecticut, representatives introduced a placeholder psychedelics bill on the fifth that he hopes will lead to formal legislation legalizing medicinal or therapeutic psychedelic use.

Midwestern Moves 

It’s time for Midwestern states to get on board with psychedelic reform.

Illinois and Minnesota Democrats are working hard at psychedelic reform, and we need to ensure our voices are heard in support of these efforts!

Illinois lawmaker Rep. La Shawn Ford (D) pre-filed a bill titled the “Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens Act.” It would legalize psilocybin by removing it from the state’s list of controlled substances while creating an advisory board to recommend psilocybin therapeutic services and facilitating expungements. 

Minnesota is also working towards legalization: Rep. Andy Smith (D) said on Friday, January 6, that he is working on a bill forming a psychedelic medicine task force so Minnesotans can access these life-affirming treatments.

Virginia’s Psychedelic Revolution

There are several psychedelic reform proposals on the table in Virginia for 2023, including one that would allow access to psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.

Legislation from Del. Dawn Adams (D) would allow for the possession of psilocybin for people who’ve received a prescription or “order” from a health professional to treat “refractory depression or post-traumatic stress disorder or to ameliorate end-of-life anxiety.” 

The legislation also includes legal safeguards against state-level prosecution for doctors and pharmacists who distribute psilocybin in accordance with its terms.

Furthermore, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D) introduced a bill last week to reclassify psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule III under state law. This bill also calls for forming a Virginia Psilocybin Advisory Board composed of medical professionals and other experts to help determine which conditions might be appropriate for using psilocybin therapy and whether age restrictions should be imposed.

Virginia’s Psychedelic Revolution

As the world looks forward to 2023, it’s clear that psychedelic reform is not just a trend—it’s a movement. This year has been exciting and promising, and we’re so excited to see what comes next.

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