Recently, Pennsylvania state Reps Jennifer O’Mara and Tracy Pennycuick introduced the Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act to the House. The measure, dubbed House Bill 1959, will allow studies to be conducted on the use of psilocybin as a treatment of various mental health conditions, from substance-abuse and eating disorders to suicidal ideation and post-traumatic stress disorder, in the state. The measure notes that priority will be given to studies with retired first responders and veterans.
Bradford Bitting, husband to O’Mara, has served two combat tours in Afghanistan, which earned him two Purple Hearts. Bitting suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. O’Mara’s father, Jose, who was a Philadelphia firefighter as well as a Marine, died in 2003 by suicide.
On the other hand, Pennycuick has served as an army helicopter pilot in three combat tours. In one of those tours, Pennycuick was trapped in a burning vehicle after an IED explosion, which caused her to develop PTSD. Pennycuick believed that psilocybin could offer relief to veterans such as her, noting that she hopes to take part in potential mushroom trials.
Brett Waters, an attorney, helped draft the bill that the two representatives introduced. Waters runs Reason for Hope, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for psychedelic-assisted mental health therapy. Waters suffered from a restrictive food intake disorder in college that psychedelics helped him overcome. The Winston & Strawn attorney sees the measure’s bipartisan support as reason for optimism that it won’t take Pennsylvania as long to legalize psychedelics as it took the state to legalize medical cannabis.
Waters stated that plenty of individuals are suffering from opioid addiction and depression and the bill would allow these people access to better treatments. He added that the lack of these treatment options in the country forced many to seek relief outside the country.
It may be difficult to get psilocybin mushrooms legalized for medicinal uses in the state. Its legislature has a history of puritanical positions on intoxicants such as cannabis and alcohol. This may be part of the reason why the measure wasn’t put on the ballot for voters to decide.
NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano stated that one factor in New Jersey and Pennsylvania was reliance on the legislature to change laws, explaining that the present political makeup of Pennsylvania’s legislature made the likelihood of the legislation passing almost impossible.
Despite this, Waters believes that if the measure receives bipartisan support, psychedelics for medical use may be legalized in the state by 2024 or 2025. This gradual easing of restrictions on psychedelics in different jurisdictions opens up a potentially large market for sector players such as Mydecine Innovations Group Inc. (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF).
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