Missouri House Committee Passes Psilocybin Legalization Bill for Military Veterans

Missouri House Committee Passes Psilocybin Legalization Bill for Military Veterans

The Missouri House Veterans Committee recently passed a medical psilocybin bill that would legalize psilocybin therapy for veterans and also grant funds for research on further therapeutic benefits.

Currently the House bill is unpublished, but an identical Senate version of the bill was also passed recently as well. SB-768 was pre-filed in December 2023 by Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder and was most recently passed in the Senate Committee on Emerging Issues on Feb. 27, with revisions to allow military veterans over 21 to use psilocybin if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or substance use disorders. Other qualifications include a requirement to “enroll or sought to be enrolled” in a study focused on psilocybin treatment and must also share their diagnosis and psilocybin use and possession with the Department of Mental Health (DoMH).

The restrictions include limiting psilocybin use to a maximum of 150 mg during a 12-month period.

Missouri’s “Right to Try” law allows people with terminal illnesses to gain legal access to experimental drugs. This law also applies to the psilocybin bill. “Additionally, this act modifies current law on the use of investigational drugs and devices for individuals with terminal illnesses to include individuals with life-threatening or severely debilitating conditions or illnesses,” the SB-768 states. “Currently, investigational drugs shall not include Schedule I controlled substances. This act repeals that prohibition.”

As psilocybin patients are required to enroll in research initiatives, the DoMH is granting “$3 million dollars for research on the use and efficacy of psilocybin for the treatment of conditions listed in the act, with such appropriation being made from the Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund.” The results and recommendations of this will be prepared and delivered to the governor, lieutenant governor, and general assembly every year.

The research would cover “the use of psilocybin, for the treatment of patients suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, substance use disorders, or who require end-of-life care.”

According to the current bill text, if passed, it would take effect in August 2024.

Rep. Aaron McMullen introduced the House version of SB-768 during the 2024 session. As a veteran who served in Afghanistan, McMullen has a personal connection to veterans’ needs. “Substance abuse and suicide are escalating in the veterans community,” said McMullen told The Independent in January. “While psilocybin is not a panacea for every issue, it represents a first true scientifically-validated hope that we have to address this crisis.”

In a statement to the Senate Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee in January, Rehder also explained the need to stand up for veterans across the state. “Many of our veterans experience high amounts of PTSD due to serving their country—due to protecting us,” Rehder said. “There should be no limits for them when it comes to access to mental health treatment, including non-pharmacological treatments.”

More support came from veteran William Wisner, who is executive director of the veteran-focused nonprofit organization Grunt Style Foundation. “My experience with these types of modalities has been that the side effects make you more empathetic,” said Wisner. “They make you kinder. They make you more open to kindness. It gives you a psychological and spiritual component to which you can engage in your own recovery.”

Wisner admitted that he never would have tried psilocybin treatment if he didn’t see the transformative results in his fellow peers. Committee Chairman Dave Griffith echoed that sentiment, telling The Independent that times have changed. “If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be chairing a committee and listening to psychedelics, I would have told you, ‘You’re crazy,’” Griffith said. “But I really have a passion for the struggles that my veteran brothers and sisters are going through, and I think we’ve got to look at the big picture.”

Research on psilocybin is changing the minds of legislators across the country. 

On Jan. 24 in Hawaii, a psilocybin bill aims to protect patients who choose to seek out psilocybin as a treatment for “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment-resistant depression or major depressive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, existential stress, and demoralization, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder.”

One bill proposed in Arizona on Feb. 2 would legalize psilocybin therapy programs, if passed. Toward the end of February, the New Mexico Senate also recently passed memorial legislation to permit the study of psilocybin and also research regulatory framework proposals.

Psilocybin support isn’t limited to the U.S. In Canada, 79% of residents support psilocybin use to treat existential dread for end-of-life patients. According to study leader Michel Dorval, a researcher at CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Center, the evidence is increasing. “Studies have already shown that psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, produces rapid, robust and lasting anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in patients suffering from advanced cancer,” Dorval said. “This substance can bring about a profound awareness that leads the patient to view existence from a different perspective. Treatment with psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, can produce relief for up to six months.”

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