This year, State Senator Jesse Salomon is sponsoring an updated version of Washington’s Psilocybin Services Wellness and Opportunity Act (Senate Bill 5263). You can read the full bill at WashingtonPsilocybin.org. The previous version, SB 5660, was introduced during Washington’s 2022 legislative session.
This article provides a detailed preview of the updated bill. Like its predecessor, the 2023 version regulates supported adult use, which allows clients to access psilocybin without a medical diagnosis or prescription. It contains significant updates. Many are original. Others were gleaned from observing Oregon’s implementation of Measure 109 and Colorado’s approval of Proposition 122, while learning from their successes and potential missteps.
Extended Implementation Period
SB 5263 extends the previous version’s 18-month implementation period to 24 months. That’s six months longer than the Natural Medicine Health Act’s rulemaking phase but comparable in length to the rulemaking period for Oregon’s Measure 109.
Enhanced Protections for Employees and Professionals
In addition to shielding employees from being fired for utilizing psilocybin services, the updated bill protects healthcare providers from being disciplined or sanctioned for recommending psilocybin services or assisting clients in obtaining them.
Mandatory Group Administration Rules
SB 5263 requires Washington’s Department of Health to make rules for group administration sessions. Similarly, the Natural Medicine Health Act requires Colorado’s governing agency, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), to allow communal consumption. By comparison, Oregon’s Measure 109 gave the Oregon Health Authority discretion to prohibit group administration. However, in response to advisory board recommendations, and significant public input, the Health Authority created extensive rules for group settings. Codifying a requirement for group administration is a significant improvement because group sessions could make psilocybin services more affordable. In addition to reflecting how psychedelics are traditionally consumed, group sessions may have other benefits such as promoting a sense of community, reducing anxiety, and improving outcomes.
Flexible Administration Sites
Two limitations of Measure 109 are its rigid linkage of service centers to fixed facilities and a related prohibition on home administration sessions. Many people who may benefit from psychedelic services cannot travel to licensed service centers. More recent legislation like Colorado’s Natural Medicine Health Act has addressed this problem by defining service centers as entities rather than specific facilities, allowing administration sessions to occur in a wider variety of locations.
Like Colorado’s law, Washington’s SB 5263 allows psilocybin administration to occur outside a service center (at other locations permitted by the Department of Health). Though both Colorado’s law and SB 5263 leave these locations to be determined by state agencies, SB 5263 provides additional guidance. For instance, locations that the Department of Health may permit must include veterans’ organizations, houses of worship, private residences, outdoor spaces, and other locations to be determined by the agency. Neither Colorado’s law nor SB 5263 allows for consumption in public spaces, and SB 5263 adds an additional prohibition on holding administration sessions in vehicles such as RVs.
Expanded Facilitator Training Requirements and License Types
Regarding training for psilocybin facilitators, SB 5263 increases the hours of required hands-on training from 40 hours, the number required in Oregon, to 250 hours. Moreover, SB 5263 creates a new license type for facilitator trainees. Once candidates have completed the core training curriculum, which consists of 120 hours of classroom-type instruction (the same as Oregon), they can apply for a facilitator trainee license. This license qualifies them to complete 250 hours of clinical experience under a qualified supervisor, who must have two-years’ experience or meet other requirements defined by the Department of Health. At least 48 of the 250 practicum hours must include direct co-facilitation with the supervisor.
No Dosage Limit Below Five Grams
SB 5263 prohibits the Department of Health from implementing a maximum dose lower than 5 grams of dried psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. By comparison, the Oregon Health Authority implemented a dose limit 50 mg of isolated psilocybin. The Oregon agency declined to provide dosage guidelines in grams of whole fungi, leaving many stakeholders confused. It remains somewhat unclear how Oregon service centers will handle the administration of whole fungi.
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