After a bill was introduced last year to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, an amended bill has been filed in New York that would legalize psychedelics more broadly, with a focus on increased personal protections and the introduction of a caregiver model. The proposed changes to the bill would not allow for legal sales of psychedelics but would allow for gifting and use. This development is great news for those who wish to use psychedelics in a safe and legal manner and for many who have been conscious of the potential healing properties of psychedelics for those suffering from severe mental health issues and addictions.
How Has The Bill Changed?
The original bill, which was filed last June by State Senators Nicole Malliotakis and Gustavo Rivera, proposed legalizing the possession and use of entheogenic plants and fungi — such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and peyote — for people over the age of 21. The bill also proposed creating a task force to study the decriminalization of all drugs.
The amended version of the bill, filed by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D) and co-sponsored by Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D), retains these provisions but also includes several new ones aimed at protecting consumers. For example, the amended bill would require manufacturers to get their products tested by an independent laboratory before they can be sold or gifted. The laboratory would test for things like purity and potency. This is important because it would help ensure that consumers know exactly what they’re taking.
The bill would establish a regulatory system for the manufacture and sale of drugs containing natural psychedelics, as well as create a “Psychedelic Review Board” to oversee the program. The board would be responsible for issuing permits to manufacture psychedelics, possess them, and engage in related activities. Manufacturers would be required to comply with Good Manufacturing Practices set forth by the Food and Drug Administration.
This regulatory system would be similar to the one that exists for cannabis growers in states like Colorado and California and would include licensing requirements and inspections by the state Department of Health.
Finally, the amended bill would establish a “caregiver” model for psychedelic providers. Under this model, providers would not be allowed to sell psychedelics; they could only gift them to people who need them for therapeutic purposes. This provision is important because it would help ensure that psychedelics are not sold commercially or used recreationally. It would also help protect providers from liability if someone were to have a bad experience with a psychedelic substance.
An Important Step
Anyone who is vaguely aware of the changing tides in mental health care is likely familiar with the increasing momentum when it comes to researching the positive effects of psychedelics.
After the destructive legacy left behind by a counterculture movement seeking wider acceptance of recreational drug use, research into the health benefits of psychedelics was halted and all but buried underground. Now, thanks to the persistence of researchers, journalists, and activists, there can be little doubt that we will see psychedelics legalized within our lifetime. The only question is “when?”
A justification memo attached to the bill acknowledges that “The failed war on drugs has led to devastating consequences for people across the nation. The criminalization of certain substances has not only left countless people incarcerated, it also has prevented individuals from accessing natural hallucinogens that can provide relief in battling mental health problems, substance use disorder, chronic pain or other health conditions.”
This acknowledgement is meaningful because although the general opinion is favorable of decriminalizing cannabis and there is widespread recognition of its health benefits, the same cannot be said yet of hallucinogens – but there are changing trends. We are still in the early days of a changing tide.
The amended psychedelics bill is a step in the right direction when it comes to ensuring consumer safety and preventing commercialization. However, it remains to be seen whether the bill will pass in its current form or whether it will be further amended before it comes up for a vote. Either way, it’s clear that there is growing support for legalizing psychedelics in New York State — and that’s something we can all get behind!
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