Oklahoma lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill in committee to decriminalize low-level possession of psilocybin and promote research into the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.
The measure from Rep. Daniel Pae (R) is one of two GOP-led psilocybin reform bills that were filed in the Oklahoma House last month. The other is less far-reaching in that it doesn’t contain a decriminalization provision and is more targeted in its research guidelines.
The House Public Health Committee approved Pae’s bill, HB 3414, in a 7-2 vote.
The 26-year-old lawmaker’s proposal would make it so possession of up to one and a half ounces of psilocybin would be punishable by a $400 fine.
To streamline studies into the substance, the measure would explicitly authorize research institutes to obtain psilocybin and use it for investigations into treatment efficacy for 10 different conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe depression and opioid use disorder.
Rep. Logan Phillips (R), the sponsor of the separate psilocybin research bill but worked on the committee-approved measure alongside Pae, discussed and took questions about his colleague’s legislation at Wednesday’s hearing.
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“The number of veterans we’ve seen die every year, every day is astronomical. The goal of this is to see if it can be an alternative and an extra tool inside the toolbox for therapists, for mental health professionals, to treat those issues,” Phillips said.
“Honestly, I served [in the military] for six years. Most of the people I served with killed themselves after they came back,” he said. “This treatment could have helped my soldiers, my friends, my colleagues—so it’s a passion to me to make sure that we get this to where we are moving the needle quickly to actually help these people.”
Eligible research institutes would need to obtain a license for the state Department of Health “for the purposes of growing, studying, processing, and/or dispensing psilocybin containing fungi or other naturally occurring source organisms, or studying, extracting, synthesizing, and/or dispensing psilocybin or psilocin,” according to the bill text.
People participating in psilocybin clinical trials would need to receive a written certification. Those conducting studies without a license, participating in a trial without a certification or otherwise acting out of compliance with the bill by possessing psilocybin outside of the confines of research would face a maximum $400 fine without the threat of jail time.
Before approving the bill, the panel adopted a small…