A top New Jersey lawmaker just introduced a bill that would legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of psilocybin for adults aged 21 or older.
The bill was proposed by state Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D), who helped the Garden State pass its long-anticipated adult-use cannabis legalization law last year. Scutari's new “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act” would make it legal for adults to “possess, store, use, ingest, inhale, process, transport, deliver without consideration, or distribute without consideration, four grams or less of psilocybin.” People who have previously been convicted of any of these offenses would also be eligible to have those charges expunged from their records.
But unlike the state's adult-use cannabis law, the new bill aims to make legal shrooms more of a DIY effort. Instead of creating a recreational psilocybin retail market, the bill would allow adults “to grow, cultivate, or process plants or fungi capable of producing psilocybin for personal use” at their own homes. This contrasts starkly with the state's cannabis laws, which completely prohibit home weed cultivation, even for medical use.
In the proposal, Scutari argues that “New Jersey has a high prevalence of adults living with behavioral health conditions” and cites scientific evidence demonstrating that psilocybin can effectively treat “clinical dependence disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress.” To this end, the bill would create “safe, legal, and affordable psilocybin service centers to provide residents of New Jersey who are 21 years of age or older with opportunities for supported psilocybin experiences to alleviate distress, provide preventative behavioral health care, and foster wellness and personal growth.”
The bill includes basic regulations for these service centers and lays out the licensing requirements for service facilitators and operators, psilocybin product manufacturers, and testing labs. The regulations also include social equity licenses for companies owned by people who have lived in “economically distressed” areas of the state for at least 5 years. The state health department would also be required to establish an advisory board to keep track of the program's success.
Many individual US cities have recently decriminalized the possession and personal use of psilocybin mushrooms and other natural psychedelics. And in 2020, Oregon voters approved a ballot measure to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in the entire state. But if Scutari's bill were to pass, New Jersey would become the only state that allows adults to grow their own shrooms.
Lawmakers in several other states, including California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, have also proposed bills to legalize or decriminalize psilocybin. Most of these efforts are still purely focused on providing access to psychedelic therapy, but California activists are campaigning for a ballot initiative that would create a fully legal, regulated adult-use psilocybin retail market.