Missouri Legislator Introduces Psilocybin Bill

A Missouri Representative recently introduced legislation that would allow psilocybin as a treatment option for qualifying patients.

Missouri Rep. Tony Lovasco introduced House Bill 869 on Jan. 18 that would allow psilocybin therapy, which is a revised version of a bill that he introduced in 2022. 

Under the current bill text, it would allow patients to use psilocybin to treat conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as those who are terminally ill and suffering from mental health. It would also cover patients who have undergone treatments for other conditions that were unsuccessful.

Lovasco described his bill as “a first step to addressing pervasive mental health crises that affect every sector of our society and economy by creating access to clinically validated therapies,” Lovasco stated in a press release. “I am especially encouraged at clinical research suggesting psilocybin may be a tool to address our opiate addiction crisis.”

Under HB 869, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) would be in charge of regulating psilocybin therapy, including opening up the treatment option to other qualifying conditions in the future. Anyone would be able to petition the DHSS to include a new condition that “benefits persons with the proposed condition in a manner equal to or greater than the benefit.”

Lovasco’s previous iteration of the bill, House Bill 2850, was introduced on March 1, 2022. It was given a hearing at the House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee on March 28, 2022, but did not move forward after that. The text originally mentioned ibogaine and mescaline, which has since been removed.

HB-869 now allows treatment options to expand if psilocybin is rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. If rescheduling occurs, it would allow any Missourian to become a patient as long as they are 21 or older to be eligible.

Although it’s uncertain what the fate of HB-869 will be, the topic of psilocybin has been ramping up in the U.S. and beyond.

In September 2022, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Veterans Mental Health and Suicide heard from Rahul Kapur, a physician, and numerous advocates about the potential benefits of psychedelics. “We, as fellow human beings and fellow Americans, owe our fellow countrymen and women our unqualified help to heal their mind, body and spirit—to honor their sacrifices in their family sacrifices,” Kapur said. “We have an obligation to keep exploring and providing them with any resources we have at our disposal. And, in my opinion, psychedelics are a key resource in this fight.”

Earlier this month, Missouri Rep. Michael Davis filed legislation that would amend the Right to Try Act, which was signed in 2018, so that it would allow patients to use psilocybin, ibogaine, or LSD as a treatment. “There is emerging interest and significant clinical research supporting the safety and efficacy of psychedelic drugs for PTSD, traumatic injury therapy and numerous other conditions,” Davis said in a press statement. “Because the [Food and Drug Administration] has not taken action to reschedule these drugs and make them generally available, I am working to make these drugs available through Missouri’s investigational drug access statute.”

Missouri is just one of many states seeking to open up access to psychedelic medicine. On Dec. 27, 2022, the Oregon Health Authority finalized rules for its Psilocybin Services Act, two years after voters passed the ballot in November 2020.

Researchers continued to study psilocybin as a medical treatment as well and continue to build up evidence of its effectiveness. The first take-home psilocybin trial in North America was approved in Canada in November 2022. The results of a double-blind trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the same month, which revealed evidence that psilocybin is effective in treating severe depression. An Australian study recently published findings on how psilocybin can ease the stress of MRIs, with one patient describing the experience as “magical.”

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