Washington State’s Senate Bill 5263 was introduced on January 11, and passed on to the House on March 9. As of April 14, it received final passage from the Senate on April 14. Previously there was some concern about the House and Senate agreeing on certain amendments for SB-5263, but ultimately the new bill text was approved by the Senate on Friday and now heads to governor’s for final consideration.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Salomon and Sen. Liz Lovelett, originally would have allowed psilocybin for people 21 years or older to obtain and use psilocybin with the assistance of licensed facilitators. Now, the bill simply implements a dedicated Psilocybin Advisory Board, an Interagency Psilocybin Work Group, and a Psilocybin Task Force, as well as a pilot program through the University of Washington.
The Psilocybin Advisory Board would consist of a variety of individuals, including the Secretary of the Department of Health, policy experts, a military veteran with knowledge of psilocybin, a social worker, mental health counselor, or marriage/family therapist, a representative of a family tribe, a psychologist, and an individual who specializes in either mycology, ethnobotany, psychopharmacology, harm reduction, or scientific research in regards to psychedelic therapy, among others. These individuals serve four-year terms, and would be required to meet five times per year.
Interagency Psilocybin Work Group would be created to “provide advice and recommendations” covering everything from regulatory framework, reviewing indigenous practices, studying various research on the “possible use and misuse of psilocybin therapy,” and developing a social opportunity program.
Finally, Psilocybin Task Force will enlist many of the same requirements as the Psilocybin Advisory Board to create a comprehensive panel of experts who will discuss gaps in scientific research, clinical trials, and much more. SB-5263 requires that the task force to submit a final report to both the governor and legislature by December 1, 2023.
Additionally, SB-5263 was expanded with help from Rep. Nicole Macri. If Inslee signs the bill, it would also create a University of Washington clinical pilot program that would provide military veterans with access to psilocybin treatment if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or mood/substance use disorders and “offer psilocybin therapy services through pathways approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” The program would be set to establish and administer its program by January 1, 2025.
In 2019, Gov. Inslee expressed support for cannabis legalization, followed by positive support of decriminalizing and/or legalizing psilocybin as well. “I would consider it. I haven’t had a chance to think about [legalization] so I can’t give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” said Inslee. “I do believe that our War on Drugs has had all kinds of untoward effects and it’s one of the reasons that, for instance, not only have we legalized marijuana in Washington but I’ve offered pardons—I’m the first governor to offer pardons to several thousands people who have misdemeanor convictions on their records.”
According to The Seattle Times, Inslee’s policy adviser for public health, Samantha Pskowski, told Sen. Salomon in February that “The bill as proposed would create a system for regulation and use of psilocybin that is not supported by the available scientific and medical evidence.” Now that the bill focuses more on the pilot program, there’s hope that Inslee will agree.
Dr. Anthony Back, a University of Washington researcher who is currently working on studying psychedelic therapies, told The Seattle Times that this bill should be passed to help patients in the state. “I think waiting for three years or waiting for more years, is not doing justice to the mental health crisis that I’m seeing now,” Back said.
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