New York State Lawmakers to Consider Legalizing Psilocybin Therapy

The New York Assembly's committee will review a bill that would legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy and establish a fund to provide the treatment to veterans and first responders.

Psilocybin, also known as "magic mushrooms," is a naturally growing hallucinogenic substance. It has been long used by indigenous cultures of the Americas in religious and healing contexts. While psilocybin is also a common recreational drug — nearly 10% of United States adults have tried psilocybin — increasing evidence shows it can be used to treat or alleviate mental health conditions.

The Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Bill, introduced in February by Democratic Assemblymember Pat Burke, seeks to "enable licensed facilitators to administer psilocybin-assisted therapy for qualified patients." The facilitators could provide therapy in clinical settings and at home for those with limited mobility.

By approving the bill, New York could become the third U.S. state to legalize psilocybin. In 2020, Oregon voters passed the Psilocybin Services Act, which took effect in 2023, allowing the manufacture and administration of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. In a close vote in 2022, Colorado legalized psilocybin and permitted the creation of state-regulated centers for its consumption.

The bill proposes to establish an advisory board consisting of 13 voting appointed members, including at least one appointee who is a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe. The board would work on designing guidelines for safe and effective services, as well as training and examination for facilitators.

In addition, the proposal foresees creating a Grant program that would provide veterans, active and retired first responders, and low-income individuals with the funding necessary to receive psilocybin-assisted therapy.

"This treatment gives a promising alternative to a crisis that is only being exacerbated in today's society. As a State, it is our duty to use every tool at our disposal to alleviate that suffering for New Yorkers," the bill reads.

The FDA may approve psilocybin as early as 2025, as the COMPASS Pathways' clinical trial on psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) has reached Phase 3.

Earlier this year, Australia approved psilocybin as medication for TRD, while MDMA, a synthetic psychedelic, was authorized as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The New York bill also mentions MDMA, albeit less explicitly.

The bill has now to be reviewed by the committee of health before being put to a vote. It also reflects a wider trend in which psilocybin, currently classified as a Schedule I substance in the U.S., is being explored for treating mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and alcohol addiction.

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