Sen. Jesse Salomon has introduced SB 5263, which would legalize and regulate the supervised use of psilocybin and make it available for wellness purposes. It would allow people aged 21 and over to undergo a psychedelic experience at a registered facility with appropriate supervision.
A Democrat from Shoreline, Saloman represents the 32nd Legislative District, which includes Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Seattle, Shoreline, Woodway, and unincorporated Snohomish County.
A previous version of the bill introduced during the 2022 legislative session failed to advance past committee. Like the previous bill, the 2023 version regulates supported adult use, which has been shown in FDA-approved studies to provide users a safe and effective method to alleviate symptoms of depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders.
A mushroom extract, psilocybin has been shown to be effective at easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal illness and has also proven to increase emotional empathy, creative thinking, mindfulness, and insightfulness in patients.
This time around, the bill has already gained ample support across the political spectrum ranging from left to center to right. Almost half of the Senate has already signed on as co-sponsors, including two Republicans, the Senate majority leader, and the chair of the Labor & Commerce Committee, which will be hearing this bill.
“Combat veterans with PTSD and people recovering from addiction or mental health issues like long-term depression have been very vocal about how psilocybin has dramatically improved their lives when all kinds of more common therapy didn’t work for them,” said Salomon. “We are trying to integrate an ancient product into our relatively new system of health and law. With so many people in mental health crises, we can’t afford to deny them a safe and well-regulated path to wellness.”
Oregon was the first state to both decriminalize psilocybin and also legalize it for therapeutic use, the result of a ballot measure approved by voters in 2020. Colorado followed in 2022. The use, sale, and possession of psilocybin in the U.S. is illegal under federal law.
SB 5263 is modeled after Oregon’s Measure 109 and Colorado’s Proposition 122. After close observation of Oregon’s law, valuable lessons were learned as to what will work best for this bill.
In a state where many residents live with mental illness and a large number have seen their mental health decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salomon said he views psychedelic usage — monitored by trained professionals — as a key to healing for some people.
“We need to make sure there is a safe and responsible process to legally participate in psilocybin use in our state,” Salomon added.
Veterans have become leading advocates in the push to allow legal access to psilocybin, sharing personal stories about how their own experiences with psychedelics have helped them cope with trauma and helped treat their anxiety and depression.
A National Guard veteran of six years who testifying at last year’s hearing said: “I appeared well put together and happy. I have a family and a successful career, but inside I was an emotional wreck. I tried psilocybin, and psilocybin released me from an emotional grief that I so desperately needed. I can say with the utmost conviction that this was one of the most profound and meaningful experiences of my life.”
A business owner and special operations veteran stated: “After 12 years of dealing with traumatic brain injury and addiction issues associated with my military service, I took psychedelics. The three months following psychedelics trumped 12 years of health services through the VA.”
The bill is expected to get a hearing in the Legislature in coming wweeks.
The committee hearing from 2022 can be found here.