Medical treatment

Washington lawmakers are considering a bill to legalize psilocybin for medical treatment

“Psilocybin cubensis mushroom” by Kristie’s NaturesPortraits is licensed under CC BY 2.0

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Known for decades as the “magic mushrooms,” lawmakers in Washington will consider legalizing the use of psilocybin to treat various illnesses like PTSD and depression.

Senate Bill 5660 mirrors a bill passed in Oregon in 2020 with some changes.

The bill allows people aged 21 and over to be treated in licensed care centers under the supervision of licensed facilitators.

Despite any state legalization, psilocybin is still illegal under federal law.

An addiction psychologist and University of Washington researcher spoke in favor of the bill during a committee hearing on Wednesday. Although his research focuses on psychedelics and drug addiction, he said he was speaking to the committee as a private citizen.

“Evidence currently suggests that psilocybin, when given in a controlled environment, under the care of a provider, can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, and a range of substance abuse disorders. “, Nathan Sackett told the committee.

He said this bill could allow some patients to find a treatment that is currently only available to patients who participate in clinical trials or who break the law to obtain it.

“I’ve seen the positive effects firsthand,” he said.

Sackett, however, backed the bill with a caveat. He said researchers haven’t done any studies beyond highly controlled environments. He said he would like to see more studies move forward, while providing this treatment legally.

Several military veterans and other citizens have spoken out in favor of the bill.

Among them was Spokane resident Darren McCrea. He opened the first medical marijuana dispensary in eastern Washington when it was legalized under state law.

McCrea says he has Parkinson’s disease and psilocybin is the only thing helping with his tremors.

A Tacoma woman said she had suffered from depression for 20 years and traditional medicine had never helped. She said a psilocybin treatment retreat in Jamaica saved her life.

Additionally, a restaurant owner named Maria Hines spoke out in favor of the bill. She said she was treated with psilocybin and it succeeded where antidepressants had failed.

She said she was in a better mental state than she had ever been.

A senator on the committee worried that lawmakers were putting the “cart before the horse” and cited stories of people who had bad trips on psilocybin.

Sackett said moving this from clandestine and illegal treatments to a legal and controlled framework would actually make it safer.

The bill was read Tuesday by the Senate Committee on Health and Long-Term Care.

442 people registered for the public hearing. 131 of them were against the bill.

You can watch the hearing at this link.