Hawaii Lawmakers Propose Bill to Research Psychedelics Ahead of Legalization
The bill would create a working group to study the current research on medicinal psilocybin and use that knowledge to create a plan for the eventual legalization of magic mushrooms in Hawaii.
Published on March 16, 2020

Two Hawaii lawmakers are trying to help America's 50th state join the growing wave of psychedelics reform.

Democratic state Senator Les Ihara Jr. and Representative Chris Lee have just proposed a bill that would create a “medicinal psilocybin working group” to study the growing research on the therapeutic use of psilocybin. After studying the evidence, the group would “develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the availability of medicinal psilocybin or psilocybin-based products that are safe, accessible, and affordable for eligible adult patients,” according to Marijuana Moment.

The bill would require the state health department to create a working group staffed with state officials, drug policy experts, and medical professionals. This group would examine the existing research on the therapeutic use of psilocybin and submit a preliminary findings report to the state legislature next year. By 2022, the group would be asked to submit a final report that would include recommendations for how Hawaii should implement legal psilocybin.

“Studies conducted by nationally and internationally recognized medical institutions indicate that psilocybin has shown efficacy, tolerability, and safety in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions, including addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress,” the bills state.

The bill also notes that even the US Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged that preliminary trials have shown psilocybin to be more effective than traditional treatments for depression. Based on these studies, the FDA has granted “Breakthrough Therapy” status to two specific psilocybin treatments, allowing researchers to fast-track federally-approved clinical trials. If successful, these trials could convince the FDA to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy to treat depression within the next few years.

It remains to be seen whether or not Hawaiian lawmakers are ready to embrace the future of medicinal psychedelics, however. The island state has only sold legal medical marijuana since 2017, and recently decriminalized very small amounts of cannabis for personal use, but attempts to bring full adult-use to the state have failed so far.

The nationwide push for psychedelics reform began in earnest last year, when Denver voted to decriminalize shrooms. Shortly thereafter, Oakland and Santa Cruz decriminalized all natural psychedelics. Oakland activists are working to take reform one step further, launching a proposal to create America's first legal, regulated psychedelics market.

Several other states are also working to decriminalize or legalize the use of psilocybin and other natural psychedelics like ayahuasca or peyote. Vermont legislators have proposed a bill to decriminalize the use of natural psychedelics, and Oregon activists are collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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