Utah Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Bill To Allow Psilocybin And MDMA Treatment At Hospitals, Sending It To The Governor

Utah Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Bill To Allow Psilocybin And MDMA Treatment At Hospitals, Sending It To The Governor

Utah lawmakers have 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.

Both chambers of the legislature passed the measure, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Kirk Cullimore (R) and House Speaker Pro Tempore James Dunnigan (R), earlier this month.

This comes about two years after Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed into law a bill that created a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use.

The new proposal that cleared the legislature this month provides for that regulated access at two types of health care systems in the state. Psychedelics could be administered by a privately owned, non-profit health care system with at least 15 licensed hospitals or within medical programs operated by institutions of higher education.

“A healthcare system may develop a behavioral health treatment program that includes a treatment” with psilocybin and MDMA that it “determines is supported by a broad collection of scientific and medical research,” the bill says.

By July 1, 2026, any hospital that establishes a psychedelics therapy pilot program would need to submit a report to the legislature that details which drugs are being utilized, healthcare outcomes of patients and any reported side effects.

If enacted into law, the legislation would take effect on May 1, 2024 and sunset after three years.

“The bill raises, I guess, some pretty big philosophical questions,” Rep. Raymond Ward (R) said during ahead of the House vote this month, noting that typically drugs are only made available to patients after receiving final approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In this case, the drugs have only been designated by FDA as “breakthrough therapies,” as the agency weighs an application to approve MDMA-assisted therapy.

The FDA approval process “can be pretty slow—and oftentimes it results in products that are just really, really expensive when they do come on the market,” he said. “The bill is proposing, really, an alternate pathway.”

“That’s why I say it’s a philosophical question,” he said. “Do you think that these medicines really only should always just go through this one pathway, the FDA first and then be allowed to be used? Or do you think there should be any other alternate pathway whereby a patient might be given these medications in a controlled setting from some of our best physicians, but where we really do not yet have all of the data that we normally would have before we gave them to patients?”

Rep. Brady Brammer (R), who sponsored the previously enacted psychedelics task force legislation, said psychedelics represent “one of the few areas of research where we see that there are curative possibilities for mental health, particularly related to PTSD and treatment-resistant depression.”

“This is another tool in our toolbox,” he said. “We’ve done the task force. They’ve come back with their reports. And now we have this clinical trial of sorts that allows for some of the patients to get it under significant observation with the appropriate guardrails.”

What’s unclear about the legislation is whether its implementation would create any legal liabilities, as hospitals and universities must typically adhere to federal regulations and both psychedelics are still currently Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

In any case, Utah is of several states where lawmakers are working to advance psychedelics reform legislation, with a focus on therapeutic use.

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, on Wednesday the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill to create a psychedelics task force responsible for studying possible regulatory frameworks for therapeutic access to substances such as psilocybin, mescaline and DMT. It would be charged specifically with ensuring “broad, equitable and affordable access to psychedelic substances” in the state.

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.

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.

An Indiana House committee, meanwhile, approved a Republican-led bill that would fund clinical research trials into psilocybin that has already cleared the full Senate.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

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