Psilocybin Research Approved in Arizona Appropriations Act Budget

The recently approved appropriations bill contains grant funds for psilocybin research.
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Arizona senators voted to approve a general appropriations act 2023-2024 on May 10. Within the appropriations bill is a multitude of funding proposals from the governor’s office, which includes everything from Alzheimer’s disease research ($4.1 million), a newborn screening program ($12 million), and the Arizona nurse education investment pilot program ($15 million), but it also includes $5 million earmarked for psilocybin research.

A health care bill, SB-1726/HB-2816, recently receive a hearing on May 10 as well, which shows what that $5 million in research would go toward “research grants for whole mushroom psilocybin phase one, phase two and 41 phase three clinical trials that are capable of being approved by the 42 United States food and drug administration…” The bill cites a number of medical conditions, including PTSD, symptoms of long COVID-19, depression, anxiety disorders, and nine more.

If passed it would instruct the Department of Health Services to open up applications for research, which would be awarded no later than February 1 of each year. The department would be limited to spending a maximum of 2% of the money for psilocybin grant research each fiscal year.

Research subjects would specifically include “veterans, first responders, frontline health care workers … and persons from underserved communities.”

Protections are also included for both the grant receiver as well as any employees working on a study, stating that they “may not be charged with or prosecuted for possession … of psilocybin when the person is working on the clinical trial.”

A psilocybin research advisory council would be tasked to manage the program to provide “recommendations to the governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate and the department on psychedelic-assisted therapy based on current federal and state research policy.” It would be made up of multiple key individuals, including a member who holds a federal license to study psychedelics and is a licensed physician, a military veteran, an Arizona law enforcement officer, and a professor or researcher who specializes in psychedelic studies.

On February 13, legislators unanimously passed a different psilocybin research bill in the House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee, which would have given $30 million in grants to psilocybin researchers. “Today HB 2486 (clinical research; psilocybin; grants; appropriation) passed MAPS Committee by a unanimous vote of 15-0! Thank you to brave bipartisan lawmakers sponsoring this bill to study veterans & first responders! @KevinPayne4AZ @TJShopeforAZ @JenLongdon @TraversforAZ,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, who is well known for her research work on cannabis and psychedelics. HB-2486 has not received any further discussion as of this writing.

While cannabis studies continue to grow, the number of psilocybin research efforts have been growing. In February, city officials in Ferndale, Michigan voted to decriminalize mushrooms as well as other psychedelic substances such as DMT and ayahuasca, and Utah officials introduced a psilocybin bill. In March, Nevada lawmakers introduced a psilocybin and MDMA research bill, and the Missouri House of Representatives approved a psilocybin research bill.

On May 10, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that creates a psilocybin therapy pilot program, although he did so with a partial veto for specific sections. On that same day, the Connecticut House of Representatives approved a psilocybin decriminalization bill. 

Oregon is farthest ahead in terms of progress. Earlier this month, Oregon awarded its first license for a psilocybin service center, following the finalization of rules back in January. “This is such a historic moment as psilocybin services will soon become available in Oregon, and we appreciate the strong commitment to client safety and access as service center doors prepare to open,” said Oregon Psilocybin Services Section Manager Angie Albee.

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