Overview of Psychedelic Licensing
With 38 states legalizing medical marijuana, communities throughout the United States are seeing an increase in support to further expand patient access to alternative medicines such as psychedelics. In 2017, Oregon deviated from federal law as first-time possession of small amounts of psychedelics was downgraded from a Class B felony to a Class A misdemeanor. Furthering this separation of state and federal law, Oregon residents pushed for psilocybin to be an accepted form of palliative treatment through a citizen’s initiative, Measure 109. By November 2022, another state joined the psychedelic brigade as Colorado’s voters passed Proposition 122 to legalize various psychedelics, specifically psilocybin for therapeutic uses in mental healthcare. Due to its more expansive legislation, Colorado’s law will further develop similar programs by 2026 for substances such as dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”), ibogaine, and mescaline (excluding peyote). Although Oregon and Colorado are the only “legalized” markets presently, several other states and cities are beginning to not only decriminalize the use of psilocybin, but also expanding their research initiatives.
As the second jurisdiction to vote on a ballot measure regarding psilocybin after Denver, CO, the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C., decriminalized various natural psychedelics such as psilocybin, psilocyn, ibogaine, DMT, and mescaline through the passage of the Entheogenic Plants and Fungus Measure (“Initiative 81”) in 2021. With 76.18% of voters passing Initiative 81, it set the precedent that non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of such substances will be among the lowest law enforcement priorities.
In addition to Washington, D.C., there are numerous cities in the United States that have decriminalized some forms of psychedelics. Through a unanimous vote by their City Council, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi on September 21st, 2020 – making it the lowest-level priority for law enforcement and prosecution. Moreover, as of July 2021, the city officially declared September as the “Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month.” By November 2021, the city of Detroit, Michigan, followed Ann Arbor’s lead and decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi as more than 61% voters supported Proposal E Measure. The third city in Michigan to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi is the city of Hazel, whose City Council unanimously voted for decriminalization and further, bars the use of city funds or resources to investigate, arrest, or prosecute someone for allegedly violating state or federal laws banning the use of entheogenic plants. Presently, the organization Decriminalize Nature Michigan is sponsoring “The Michigan Decriminalization of Psilocybin Mushrooms and Other Plants and Fungi Initiative” to appear on the November 5th, 2024, ballot.
The state with the most local-level psychedelic decriminalization is Massachusetts. Moreover, Massachusetts’ law classifies psychedelic such as psilocybin, psilocyn, ibogaine, mescaline, and peyote less seriously than almost any other state where the substance remains illegal. In January 2021, the city of Sommerville became the 1st Massachusetts city to decriminalize naturally occurring psychedelics found in entheogenic plants. A couple months later, both Cambridge and Northampton followed Sommerville’s lead and decriminalized specific psychedelics within their boundaries. By October 2021, Easthampton’s City Council voted in favor of a resolution to decriminalize the possession and use of certain psychedelic plants, making it the 4th city in Massachusetts to decriminalize “magic mushrooms.” The City of Amherst joined the other decriminalized cities in Massachusetts in June of 2022. The most recent state to decriminalize is Salem as their City Council voted on May 11, 2023, to end arrests involving psilocybin.
On the West Coast, Washington and California have a few cities who have followed suit in decriminalizing plant-derived psychedelics. On October 14th, 2021, Seattle became the largest United States’ city to decriminalize psychedelic substances. Seattle’s City Council approved a resolution to decriminalize noncommercial activity around a wide range of psychedelic substances, including the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine and non-peyote-derived mescaline. “The Golden State” has two (2) cities, Oakland and Santa Cruz, who followed suit and decriminalized psilocybin in June of 2019 and January 2020, respectively.
Current Proposed State Legislation for Legalization or Decriminalization:
Lawmakers in states across the United States are making foundational strides toward legalizing or decriminalizing psychedelics.
Bill No. A00114 sponsored by Representative Linda Rosenthal (D) proposes to legalize the possession and use of specific psychedelics including DMT, psilocybin, psilocin, peyote, mescaline, and ibogaine for adults 21 years or older. Further, it would declassify hallucinogens as Schedule I controlled substances under state law.
Senate Bill 4911, also called the “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act,” would authorize the production and use of psilocybin to promote health and wellness for adults over the age of 21, as well as decriminalize and expunge past offenses involving psilocybin production, possession, use, and distribution.
Senate Bill 58 has been introduced to decriminalize the possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, or transportation of specified quantities of certain psychedelics (excluding peyote) for personal use or facilitated use by and with adults 21 years or older.
Senate Bill 242 would require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish the Psychedelic Medicines Working Group, and further establish a research facility to conduct certain studies involving controlled substances such as psilocybin and MDMA on individuals 18 years and older. Further, if passed, it would legalize fungi containing psilocybin or psilocin in amounts smaller than four (4) ounces for people 18+.
House Bill 0001, also known as “The Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens (CURE) Act,” would remove criminal penalties for the possession, delivery, or manufacture of psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine, and mescaline (except peyote). Further, it sets the stage for a psilocybin service program similar to Oregon and Colorado to allow licensure for approved entities to operate psilocybin service centers and facilitate such services.
Senate Bill 1009 if passed, would decriminalize the possession, ingestion, cultivation, and transportation of specific entheogenic plants and fungi such as psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, ibogaine, and mescaline for individuals 18 years of age or older.
Proposed State Research Initiatives and Pilot Programs:
In the beautiful state of Hawaii, lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 1454 to establish a Psilocybin and Psilocin Therapeutic Use Advisory Board to provide expert recommendations to the Department of Health on the use of psilocybin and psilocin, including patient access, education, and research. Under this bill, Hawaii’s Department of Health would establish regulatory oversight of the program including facility requirements, patient evaluation procedures, and training and certification requirements for healthcare providers. Pursuant to SB 1454, licensed health providers will be permitted to administer psilocybin or psilocin with qualifying medical conditions in a private, supervised environment.
Senate Bill 200 in Utah would establish a Psilocybin Pilot Program to allow as many as 5,000 individuals to participate. If passed, the state of Utah would be issued two (2) licenses to prospective cultivators of mushrooms, as well as license therapy centers and independent testing laboratories. In the Midwest, Representative Toney Lovasco proposed House Bill 869, which would allow licensed healthcare practitioners to administer psilocybin to patients with PTSD, a terminal illness or another serious condition that does not respond to alternative treatment. Further, it would allow unlicensed manufacture of psilocybin products.
In addition to proposing decriminalization legislation, the state of New Jersey has an additional proposed bill, Senate Bill 2934, that would instill a program for the therapeutic use of psilocybin to treat certain mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and addition.
New Mexico, Missouri, and Washington presently have proposed bills to implement in-depth research programs on various psychedelic substances. If approved, House Bill 393 in New Mexico would allow the state to create an advisory board to study a potential launch of a psilocybin and MDMA therapy program, specifically for patients with certain mental health conditions. Such mental health conditions include PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, and end-of-life psychological distress. In Missouri, the state’s Department of Health would be allowed to perform clinical trials examining the therapeutic potential of MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin for specific mental health conditions under the terms of House Bill 1154. The newest version of Washington’s Senate Bill 5263 if passed, would establish working groups within the state’s executive branch to study the legalization of psilocybin, who would provide recommendations for proposed regulatory structures, as well as prepare for the launch of a commercial market if lawmakers authorize it in their 2025 legislative session.
From Oakland, California, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, cities are taking the lead in making the progressive steps towards decriminalization, legalization, and more as popularity increases to use psychedelics to help heal those with serious mental health conditions. With the commercial psychedelic market making its way through statewide approval in Oregon and Colorado, there is no stopping the momentum of therapeutic psychedelic reform across the United States as they watch theses initial states develop foundational programs to provide more health care access to their residents. It is important to have proper guidance while navigating, entering, or operating in the novel psychedelic industry. Whether you need an expert to help you enter the industry or if you are already an operational business in the space and need consultation, we are here to lead the way. We handle each step of the Psychedelic Licenses process, from working with your team to identify a new market opportunity, putting together a strong team using our network, drafting the application, challenging agency action (if needed), business structuring, tax planning, and consulting to keep your business compliant and successful. Now is the time to become an integral leader in the flourishing psychedelic market – Contact our Team of Psychedelic license attorneys and consultants today to discuss your options!