Maryland Senators Approve Psychedelics Task Force Bill In Committee, Days After House Passes Companion Measure

Maryland Senators Approve Psychedelics Task Force Bill In Committee, Days After House Passes Companion Measure

A Maryland Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill to create a psychedelics task force to study and make recommendations on a possible regulatory framework for substances such as psilocybin and DMT. It would be charged specifically with ensuring “broad, equitable and affordable access to psychedelic substances” in the state.

With a key legislative deadline fast approaching, the Senate Finance Committee on Friday moved to replace the language of the legislation from Sen. Brian Feldman (D) with that of an amended companion version that cleared the full House of Delegates this week, and then advanced it on a voice vote.

“Right off the bat, I have to say some of you may look at the bill and you’re gonna see the name ‘psychedelic substances,’ and many of you might immediately tune out,” Feldman said at an earlier hearing the committee held  to consider the legislation on Thursday. “Similar to 10 years ago when I was here and the topic of medical cannabis came up, and it was a similar kind of thing like, ‘What the heck? What are we thinking? What are we doing? And of course now we’ve got 40 states in the United States that have legalized medical cannabis.”

“This is actually an area that’s been studied far more than cannabis, whether for behavioral health issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, broader behavioral health, depression issues, chronic pain,” the senator, who also championed marijuana legalization in the Senate in a prior session, said. “It’s just another tool in the toolbox when you’re dealing with treatments.”

The legislation would establish a “Task Force on Responsible Use of Natural Psychedelic Substances” that would be overseen by the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA).

Members of the task force would be required to examine and make recommendations on issues such as “permitting requirements, including requirements regarding education and safety,” “access to treatment and regulated support” and “production of natural psychedelic substances.”

There are also provisions tasking the body with looking into expunging prior convictions for psychedelics and releasing people incarcerated for such offenses, along with a mandate to make recommendations on potential civil penalties for “nonviolent infractions involving the planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, or possessing of or other engagement with natural psychedelic substances.”

Under the bill, the governor, legislative leaders and various state agencies would be responsible for appointing the 17-member task force that would specifically consider policies around psilocybin, psilocin, dimethyltryptamine and mescaline (not derived from peyote). Under a recent amendment, the legislation would also give members discretion to put more psychedelics under review as they see fit.

The body’s recommendations would be due to the governor and legislature by July 31, 2025. The legislation would sunset after two and a half years.

The crossover deadline in the legislature is Monday, so senators will need to move quickly if they want the chamber’s measure to pass alongside the House measure. Feldman, the sponsor, told the committee chair on Thursday that he’d like to see his version advance through the full body in time, but he said he’d also be amenable to approving the amended House companion if there were time constraints.

The House version as originally introduced contained more prescriptive requirements to explore and issue recommendations on aspects of psychedelics policy such as “systems to support statewide online sales of natural psychedelic substances with home delivery” and “testing and packaging requirements for products containing natural psychedelic substances with clear and accurate labeling of potency.” That language was taken out in an amendment and also did not appear in the original Senate version as drafted.

The task force legislation is advancing about two years after a different law took effect creating a state fund to provide “cost-free” access to psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

A number of state legislatures are pursuing psychedelics policy reform this session, with a focus on therapeutic access.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.—

For example, the Indiana legislature recently sent a bill to the governor’s desk that includes provisions to fund clinical research trials into psilocybin.

On Monday an Arizona House panel approved a Senate-passed bill to legalize psilocybin service centers where people could receive the psychedelic in a medically supervised setting.

Utah lawmakers last week unanimously approved a Republican-led bill to authorize a pilot program for hospitals to administer psilocybin and MDMA as an alternative treatment option, sending it to the governor.

Also last week a Missouri House committee unanimously approved a bill to legalize the medical use of psilocybin by military veterans and fund studies exploring the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.

Connecticut lawmakers held a hearing on a bill to decriminalize possession of psilocybin last week.

Vermont legislative panel continued its consideration this month of a bill that would legalize psilocybin in the state and establish a work group on how to further regulate psychedelics for therapeutic use.

The governor of New Mexico recently endorsed a newly enacted resolution requesting that state officials research the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and explore the creation of a regulatory framework to provide access to the psychedelic.

An Illinois senator recently introduced a bill to legalize psilocybin and allow regulated access at service centers in the state where adults could use the psychedelic in a supervised setting—with plans to expand the program to include mescaline, ibogaine and DMT.

Alaska House and Senate committees are considering legislation that would create a task force to study how to license and regulate psychedelic-assisted therapy in anticipation of eventual federal legalization of substances like MDMA and psilocybin.

Lawmakers in Hawaii are also continuing to advance a bill that would provide some legal protections to patients engaging in psilocybin-assisted therapy with a medical professional’s approval.

New York lawmakers also said that a bill to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in that state has a “real chance” of passing this year.

Bipartisan California lawmakers also recently introduced a bill to legalize psychedelic service centers where adults 21 and older could access psilocybin, MDMA, mescaline and DMT in a supervised environment with trained facilitators.

A Nevada joint legislative committee held a hearing with expert and public testimony on the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin in January. Law enforcement representatives also shared their concerns around legalization—but there was notable acknowledgement that some reforms should be enacted, including possible rescheduling.

The governor of Massachusetts recently promoted the testimony of activists who spoke in favor of her veterans-focused bill that would, in part, create a psychedelics work group to study the therapeutic potential of substances such as psilocybin.

Hawaii Joint House Panels Advance Senate-Passed Marijuana Legalization Bill Despite Concerns From Advocates

Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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