In a bold display of progress, Texas legislators have introduced three new bills to advance the cause for psychedelic policy reform.
Psychedelic research has been a hot topic for state governments in 2023. While most might see psychedelics (and larger drug decriminalization efforts) as an issue being led by Democratic representatives, the issue has actually seen a lot of bipartisan discourse and agreement.
In a remarkable show of commitment to psychedelic policy reform, Texas lawmakers have presented three new bills in the state legislature.
Texas, an unlikely leader in psychedelic research promotion
Texas initially launched efforts into state-sponsored psychedelic research in 2021 with a bill focused on medical use for military veterans. The bill was allowed to come into law without the Governor’s signature and mentioned that the state of Texas will be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center.
It also mandated a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.
“Psychedelic medicine has the potential to completely change society’s approach to mental health treatment, and research is the first step to realizing that transformation,” Rep. Alex Dominguez (D), sponsor of the legislation.
What do these new bills contain?
HB 4288: Sponsored by Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (D)
- Amends the existing psychedelics law (see above), which mandated the state to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center.
- Adds “a facility licensed in this state that provides ketamine-related mental health services” to the list of potential partners in that research. It would also allow studies to focus on “other identified individuals,” in addition to just veterans.
- The commission and the college would need to “prescribe standardized protocols for each researcher or research organization participating in the study.” And it would further extend the deadline for the commission to file its final report and recommendations by two years, with the new deadline as December 1, 2026.
HB 4423: Sponsored by Rep. Josey Garcia (D)
- Creates a new Psilocybin Research Advisory Council to advise the Health and Human Services Commission and the legislature on psilocybin research and treatment.
- Members of the advisory council would need to be appointed by the executive commissioner of health and human services by December 31, 2023 and would include: a physician with a federal license to study psychedelics, a military veteran, a law enforcement officer, a psychedelics researcher and representatives of state agencies (at a minimum).
- Creates a grants program administered by the council to support Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials using whole mushroom psilocybin to treat PTSD, long COVID, depression, anxiety, end-of-life stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance misuse, eating disorders, chronic pain, and other conditions.
- Grants would be awarded annually for a period of three years, and funded research would need to focus on veterans, first responders, frontline health care workers and people from underserved communities.
- The council would make annual recommendations to the legislature on psychedelic-assisted therapy.
HB 4561: Sponsored by Rep. Julie Johnson (D)
- Creates a new Alternative Mental Health Therapy Research Consortium focused on researching “the efficacy of providing mental health care through the provision of psychedelic drugs and ketamine, focusing on the provision of mental health care to veterans in this state through the use of those alternative therapies.”
- The consortium would also administer a grants program to establish ketamine clinics throughout Texas, as well as a voucher program to support veterans who wish to receive ketamine therapy.
- Members appointed by the executive commissioner of health and human services would include: academics focused on psychedelic therapy, representatives of health-related institutions providing alternative mental health therapies using ketamine, mental health professionals who specialize in treating veterans and representatives of psychedelics advocacy groups, among others.
- The bill would also direct the commission to conduct a study on the efficacy of using substances such as ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT to treat veterans who suffer from PTSD, depression, and mild traumatic brain injury. The consortium would be required to submit a report with its findings and any recommendations to lawmakers by December 1, 2024.
As Texas democrats and republicans now share similar goals in the psychedelic research and policy spaces, it will be very interesting to see how the state positions itself with regards to psychedelic accessibility, regulations, and law enforcement.
Catch up with other psychedelic reform bills: More and more psychedelic reform bills are in the pipeline throughout the United States.