Virginia Legislators Reject Medical Psilocybin Measure

Efforts to increase psilocybin access in Virginia ran into a wall after state lawmakers rejected a measure that would have allowed residents to purchase and use psilocybin for medical use with a doctor’s recommendation. The initiative, introduced by Delegate Dawn Adams, would have provided protections for patients who use psilocybin to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, refractory depression, or “ameliorate end-of-life anxiety.”

The bill had been revised from a previous version from Adams to focus more on using psilocybin for medical purposes. However, a House Courts of Justice committee chose to table the measure in a five to three vote, effectively killings its chances of advancing this session.

If the measure had advanced, it would have also provided legal protections to doctors and pharmacists who were involved in distributing medical psilocybin against state prosecutions. In addition, the legislation would require that state laws are amended to make the possession of nonmedical psilocybin a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Adams stated in a recent interview that she did not have “extremely high hopes” that her medical psilocybin legislation would advance this session because the Virginia legislature tends to take its time with drug-policy reform issues. She added that while she hoped that “leaning” the bill down and making it as narrow as possible would give it a chance, it was clear that the proposed legislation wasn’t headed anywhere from the beginning.

Adams said she thinks that the individuals reviewing the bill did not have the appetite to learn about psilocybin, the psychedelic drug in magic mushrooms, and they didn’t want their image connected with magic mushrooms.

Despite receiving testimony from people who had experience with psychedelics such as military vets and business owners who had witnessed the therapeutic potential of the psilocybin, the committee voted to lay the legislation. In addition, Adams highlighted that legislators were still fighting ingrained stigmas against drugs such as psilocybin and magic mushrooms, noting that she did not know when the tipping point would be.

Addressing concerns about the psychoactive effects of psilocybin, Adams acknowledged that the drug was indeed psychoactive but stressed that it was “natural,” not synthesized. She added that the point of her bill was to take away the fear of being arrested for simply “trying to treat mental health problems.”

Although Adam’s bill has lost its chances of advancing this session, a measure from Senator Ghazala Hashmi to reclassify psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule II is still in session.

The setback suffered by this attempt to reform Virginia’s drug laws is unlikely to be a major blow given that many startups elsewhere like Seelos Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) are making headway in their development programs seeking to make medicinal formulations from psychedelic compounds like psilocybin. As these efforts succeed, drug laws will inevitably evolve since the old laws will no longer be valid given the latest realities.

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