An Arizona House committee has approved a bill to protect $5 million in funding for psilocybin research from being redistributed amid a state budget deficit.
As the state works to address a funding shortfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee passed a measure from the chairman, Rep. Kevin Payne (R), that would prevent the psychedelic research money from lapsing until at least July 2026. It advanced in a 11-3 vote.
Payne was the sponsor of legislation that was enacted last year under an appropriations package signed by the governor that mandated research into the medical potential of psilocybin mushrooms for a variety of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, long COVID symptoms and substance misuse disorder.
He led a standalone bill that would have allocated $30 million for the research, but the smaller amount was ultimately appropriated under the broader budget deal.
Now the lawmaker is pressing to ensure those dollars are not temporarily redirected as part of the government’s efforts to fill the budget gap.
Payne said during Monday’s committee hearing that it’s important to preserve consistent funding for the grants because of the time commitment that researchers take on to carry out these studies, and the current appropriations are set to expire this summer.
“What’s going to happen is they’re going to be halfway through the study and the money is going to run out and they’re not going to get paid at all,” he said. “So there won’t be anybody doing any studies unless we get this bill done.”
Andrew Dean, a U.S. Air Force veterans and director of Citizens for Psilocybin, testified in favor of the legislation, stating that it will “help our veterans and frontline EMS workers get the help that they need and, more importantly, that they deserve.”
The underlying provisions promoting the psilocybin research are actively being implemented. A Psilocybin Research Advisory Council that was established under the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) met for the first time last November prior an open application period for potential grant recipients.
The grant money must be distributed to applicants with proposals focused on clinical trials that are meant to identify therapeutic applications that could receive federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treatment of 13 listed conditions.
The new bill that Payne is sponsoring also makes a number of mostly technical changes to the law, including allowing prospective grant recipients to apply for funding for active clinical trials and ensuring that the advisory board’s required physician member has experience studying drugs classified as Schedule I under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
It is already the case that researchers who’ve studied psilocybin with approval from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and whose trials involve veterans, first responders, health care workers and people from underserved communities are prioritized for grant money.
Arizona one of several states where lawmakers have worked to promote research into psychedelics amid growing public interest in expanding therapeutic access and ending criminalization.
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For example, a Nevada joint legislative committee held a hearing with expert and public testimony on the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin last week. Law enforcement representatives also shared their concerns around legalization—but there was notable acknowledgement that some reforms should be enacted, including possible rescheduling.
An Indiana Senate committee unanimously approved a bill last week that would fund clinical research trials into psilocybin-assisted therapy for mental health.
The governor of Massachusetts filed a bill last November to create a psychedelics working group to study and make recommendations about the potential therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA for military veterans. This comes as advocates await state verification of signatures they’ve submitted for a 2024 psychedelics legalization ballot initiative.
A New York lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would create a pilot program to provide psilocybin therapy to 10,000 people, focusing on military veterans and first responders, while the legislature also considers broader psychedelics reform.
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