Published In The National Law Review
The latest attempt to expand the psychedelic world is making its way through Congress. On September 21, 2023, Congressmen Robert Garcia (CA-42) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the “Validating Independence for State Initiatives on Organic Natural Substances Act of 2023”. Aptly titled the VISIONS Act, this legislation would, if enacted, protect legal psilocybin use from federal law enforcement intervention in any state or locality where psilocybin is legally permitted. The language in the Act specifically states that it aims to prohibit any federal funds from being used to prevent any state or local government from implementing their laws to “authorize the use, distribution, sale, possession, research, or cultivation of psilocybin.” This would, in turn, close the significant gap that exists between state licit psychedelic businesses and state authorized medical marijuana businesses with respect to the risk of federal drug law enforcement.
The VISIONS Act also is a significant attempt to expand access to psychedelic use and treatment in the United States. Critics pan the bill as too slim, as it only includes psilocybin, but it is a monumental stride in an attempt to allow state psilocybin businesses freedom from some of the Schedule I federal tape that currently binds them. In contrast to attempts to de-schedule a particular substance, a process which can be challenging, uncertain, and potentially contingent on FDA-approval, this bill would create some immediate relief for businesses that provide psilocybin to individuals needing treatment in compliance with state law. Currently, psilocybin’s federal Schedule I classification prevents broad treatment and research of psilocybin, potentially inhibiting the understanding and utilization of the substance. However, some of the recent research on psilocybin usage is promising, indicating that the drug can be utilized with positive effect for individuals suffering from debilitating diseases, such as anxiety, depression, addiction (substance use disorder), and PTSD. Some of the research also has shown that psilocybin has a low potential abuse rate.
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