Arizona is paving the way to be a leader in psilocybin-assisted therapy with their recent budget in HB2486 providing $5 million for clinical trials studying the potential health benefits of mushroom psilocybin.
These funds are earmarked for research into treating mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), long COVID-, depression, anxiety disorders, end-of-life distress, and OCD. The initial proposal was for $30 million to be allocated for these trials; however, the final amount was reduced significantly. Nevertheless, this move has given advocates of psychedelic-assisted therapy hope that their work could come to fruition in Arizona and other states soon.
The initial proposed budget was for an allocation of $30 million to fund clinical trials of psilocybin and its potential health. However, the final approved amount has significantly reduced to only $5 million. This amount will support competitive research grants for phase I clinical trials studying the effectiveness of whole mushroom psilocybin therapy in treating various mental health conditions like PTSD, long COVID-19, depression, anxiety disorders, and more.
The hope is that these studies will provide evidence strong enough for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval regarding the use of psychedelic-assisted therapies.
Sue Sisley, MD, the chief medical officer of the nonprofit Scottsdale Research Institute, is hopeful that these trials can bring relief to those suffering from mental health issues. In a recent article with the Arizona Mirror, she noted that “We’re thrilled that the research on natural mushrooms will finally be able to move forward, so this is a big achievement that finally we’re going to get objective data,” and “I couldn’t believe how many police officers and firefighters came to me and said they’ve had PTSD for years and this was the only thing that helped,”
Arizona state representatives have also weighed in on this issue and are supportive of using psilocybin therapy as a potential solution. Rep. Kevin Payne said in a statement: “The GOP has often fought for medical freedom, opposing FDA overregulation and pushing for ‘Right-to-try’ laws, Arizonans, especially veterans, deserve alternatives to dangerous and addictive prescriptions. This bill will help.”
In order to receive grants under this program, applicants must meet certain criteria. The organization conducting the clinical trial must be an accredited and reputable institution that can pre-qualify with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Additionally, grant recipients must submit detailed protocols and safety plans for their projects to be approved. Furthermore, a five-member Psilocybin Advisory Council has been established by the Arizona legislature to oversee this research program and ensure ongoing compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
The passing of this bill is an incredible stride towards psychedelic-assisted therapy becoming more accepted and accessible to those who need it most. This $5 million will surely help move the research forward, but more importantly, it shows growing support for this type of therapy from Arizona representatives and citizens alike. With any luck, other states will follow suit in the near future and provide funding for similar programs. At the very least, this is an incredibly hopeful sign that psychedelic-assisted therapies can become mainstream treatments shortly.
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