Biggest difference between the two proposed bills: one decriminalizes plant medicine.
The Sooner State might soon be a friendlier place for psychedelic researchers and enthusiasts.
Two GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma recently introduced bills pushing for reform around psilocybin, the naturally occurring hallucinogenic compound found in hundreds of fungi species. Their pieces of legislation would pave the way for clinical trials researching the psychedelic’s therapeutic potential with veterans, with one going an extra step further in calling for the drug’s decriminalization if possessed in reasonable quantities.
Submitted by Reps. Daniel Pae (R) and Logan Phillips (R), the largely similar bills offer the state’s legislature two different paths toward psychedelic healing. In addition to authorizing research institutes to obtain psilocybin and study its efficacy in treating conditions ranging from opioid use disorder and traumatic brain injury to treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Pae’s legislation also decriminalizes the plant medicine, making possession of less than one and one-half ounces a civil penalty resulting in a $400 fine.
In Pae’s version, qualifying institutes would first need to obtain a state-issued license for growing, studying, and dispensing psilocybin or be subject to the same fine. Likewise, patients seeking treatment would require written certification as well as a signature from their physician.
Rep. Phillips, meanwhile, is described as a military veteran who has worked with PTSD survivors, has seen prior research indicating the effectiveness of psilocybin-assisted therapy, and is now determined to use those tools to combat the nation’s mental health crisis. Qualifying patients under his bill include veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces or Oklahoma National Guard who suffer from “major depressive disorder, severe depression, or any other form of depression or anxiety that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies.”
While Rep. Phillips’s bill doesn’t go so far as to decriminalize psilocybin, he said the policy is one he ultimately supports. “This is plant-based medicine. It grows everywhere,” he said in a recent phone interview with Marijuana Moment. “We don’t need to lock up people because they ate some mushrooms.”
In the same interview, Rep. Phillips also gave multiple reasons as to why he believed his bill had a good chance of making it through the legislature. For starters, he believed Oklahomans generally support measures aimed toward helping veterans. Additionally, he pointed toward the passing of similar measures promoting psychedelic research in nearby Texas.
The legislation filed in Oklahoma is just the latest piece of evidence the psychedelic “train has left the station,” as National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Dr. Nora Volkow put it during a recent psychedelic therapy workshop. Similar pro-plant medicine bills were introduced earlier this month in Missouri and Virginia while groundbreaking new laws promoting psychedelic therapy and research are already in effect in Canada, Texas, and Connecticut.