Massachusetts Governor Proposes Bill to Explore Psychedelics Treatments for Veterans

Earlier this month, the governor of Massachusetts filed a measure that would modernize services, increase benefits and promote inclusivity for veterans in the state. Governor Maura Healey filed the resolution, christened the Hero Act, on Veterans Day.

The measure would establish a private-public working group to conduct research on the health benefits of psychedelic substances as treatments for veterans suffering from mental health or physical disorders related to their service. It would also expand behavioral-health treatment and provide IVF reimbursement for service members in the LGBTQ community.

This isn’t the first psychedelic-focused measure to be introduced in the state, which has emerged as a leader in psychedelic reform. Earlier this year, a ballot measure that would legalize psilocybin was introduced. Despite almost qualifying for the ballot, the measure is being opposed by a coalition made up of groups such as New England Veterans for Plant Medicine and Bay Staters for Natural Medicine.

The primary reason for opposition is because the measure, which is being championed by New Approach PAC, would legalize psychedelic therapy in a way that was unaffordable and restrictive. Bay Staters for Natural Medicine cofounder, James Davis, stated that the proposed ballot measure would need to be substituted for a separate measure, so veterans weren’t charged $4,000 or more to access psychedelic therapy, as has been seen in the state of Oregon.

He also thanked Healey for recognizing psilocybin’s importance.

U.S. Marine veteran Michael Botelho echoed Davis’ sentiments, noting that the ballot measure would create a system that made it impossible for ordinary veterans to afford plant medicine therapies. Botelho is the cofounder of New England Veterans for Plant Medicine.

Air Force vet Ellen Brown also thanked the governor and requested that action be taken against the proposed ballot measure. In her explanation, Brown noted that the measure’s framework would establish barriers similar to the ones that have prevented veterans from accessing marijuana affordably.

Thus far, the cities of Cambridge, Somerville, Salem, Easthampton, Amherst and Northampton have passed resolutions that direct their respective police departments to stop enforcing laws against the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin. The second biggest city in the state also approved a legislation that recognized the effectiveness of psychedelic therapy in treating conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Additionally, the biggest longitudinal study ever done on the use of psilocybin recently determined that psilocybin was capable of producing notable and lasting changes in psychological health and well-being, such as decreases in depression, anxiety and misuse of alcohol. The study’s findings show that there exists strong evidence of psilocybin’s benefits for various conditions.

As more states move to explore the viability of using psychedelics to treat various mental health disorders, the psychedelic drugs being developed by entities such as Compass Pathways PLC. (NASDAQ: CMPS) could find an eager market when they obtain regulatory approval and become available in the healthcare system.

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