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Liberalized Laws on Psychedelics Struggle to Gain Traction

Will loosening national attitudes about drug use and legalization extend to psychedelics? More than a dozen cities have decriminalized psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Colorado was the first to pass such a measure in 2019. Since then, in more than two dozen states, legislators have introduced 60 bills proposing new regulations for using psychedelics, The Week reports. Most of the proposals have stalled in committee or have failed to get a vote, while bills to decriminalize possession of psychedelic mushrooms have failed in 19 states, including Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas. Florida, Oklahoma and Texas have introduced measures to allow researchers to study the health benefits of psilocybin. In 2020, voters in Oregon supported a bill to legalize the regulated use of psilocybin for personal use at licensed "service centers." However, about a third of the state's cities and counties have introduced ballot measures in the recent midterm elections to ban these centers from their area. Colorado voters recently passed similar legislation, which allows the use of psilocybin and psilocin, the two psychoactive compounds found in mushrooms, under the use of licensed facilitators in regulated centers.


Supporters for psychedelic legalization often cite the growing number of studies that suggest that the substances are a viable option for treating mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction and eating disorders. One study found a single dose of synthetic psilocybin improved symptoms in some people with treatment-resistant depression. The trial authors said it is the largest study of its kind to date, with 233 participants, but more extensive research is needed to test the efficacy of treating depression with psilocybin. Critics of the Colorado bill have said passing legislation for psychedelic therapy sets a dangerous precedent of circumventing the research the Food and Drug Administration does to approve medications. In Oregon, local opposition takes a go-slower approach. "We just want to say no; we want to opt-out for a while," said Stayton, Or., Mayor Henry Porter. "The health, safety, and welfare of the community, that's my main responsibility."

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