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Medical Psilocybin/Shrooms Bill Passes NJ Senate Health Committee

The NJ Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a medical psilocybin or magic mushrooms bill authorizing the establishment of therapeutic centers.

The “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act” would establish a framework for the regulated production and use of medical psilocybin.

Growing or possessing underground shrooms would still be a crime.

Clinical trials show psilocybin is an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addiction, and anorexia.

Medical Psilocybin was legalized in Oregon, while voters in Colorado approved a legalization plan expected to be implemented later in 2024.

New Jersey Medical Psilocybin Legalization Bill Details

At the beginning of the committee hearing, a substitute for S-2283 occurred with significant changes. An Aide explained they are keeping magic mushroom home growing illegal and not decriminalizing or expunging any crimes, thus removing social justice from legalization.

So, the booming underground medical psilocybin industry would remain underground with no real pathway in sight, thus undermining the legal program.

NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission is working hard to create a pathway like that. However, underground legacy businesspeople and social justice advocates will say not hard enough.

With the growing popular acceptance and talk of legalization, a lot of underground legacy operators have added magic mushrooms to their inventory.

NJ Psilocybin Advisory Board to Create Medical Program

The bill would establish a 15-member advisory Psilocybin Advisory Board (PAB) in the Department of Health (DOH). It would create the standards over 18 months under which the medical psilocybin program would operate.

The Psilocybin Advisory Board would include the Health Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner for Health Services, an official specializing in public health programs, the Attorney General, the Adjutant General who oversees the veteran issues or their deputies, and a representative of the Public Health Council.

In addition, nine public members with relevant expertise would be appointed by the Governor.

The board would have 18 months to develop recommendations and submit them to the Health Department to adopt its regulations. It would be responsible for developing specific standards for training the service administrators, licensing requirements, and safety rules.

Setting Up a New Jersey Medical Psilocybin Industry

The bill establishes licensed New Jersey psilocybin services centers, psilocybin production facilities, treatment centers, and testing operations.

Local officials would need to approve production facilities or psilocybin service centers in their community.

The inability to get local approval has been greatly hurting New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs since towns have a lot of power.

Patients have to be 21 years old and up would have to get a referral from a professional. That could mean a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.

The PAB would develop a defined list of eligible health conditions.

3-Step Medical Psilocybin Therapy Process

The bill mandates a three-step treatment process. First a listening session occurs to screen the patients and determine their treatment goals. Then, you have an administrative session when psilocybin is consumed under the supervision of a qualified “service administrator,” facilitator, or guide.

An after-treatment therapy session then occurs to discuss the experiences of the session, assess its outcome, and determine follow-up care.

The NJ Department of Health would collect data from the providers on patient experiences and treatment outcomes. Information would be used to assess the program’s success.

Medical shroom legalization legislation has been sponsored by NJ Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22) and Senator Joe Vitale (D-19). The co-sponsors are Holly Schepisi (R-39), Andrew Zwicker (D-16), Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-5) and Declan O’Scanlon (R-13).

Fighting for Legal Medical Shrooms

“Psilocybin can be a safe and effective treatment for severe depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders,” said Scutari in released remarks.

“We are only just beginning to grasp the true breadth of the number of New Jerseyans facing daily struggles with debilitating issues,” JV said. “Finding effective treatment for such ailments can be difficult.”

“Psilocybin might be the one treatment that works for thousands of people in our state,” JV added.

Medical Mushrooms Legalization Hearing Held

“We had this issue for discussion not long ago,” Vitale noted.

A medical magic mushrooms informational hearing occurred last year.

Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) Carrier Clinic Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Eric Alcera said he has worked on many difficult patient cases.

“These patients and families have endured prolonged struggle with severe depression and anxiety and substance abuse,” he added.

“Psychedelic medicine is a new treatment paradigm,” Alcera declared.

He said it helps with PTSD, trauma, anxiety, and eating disorders. It encourages neuroplasticity by making new connections in the brain. That opens people up to new learning experiences and making positive changes.

Alcera explained that a research trial at the University of San Diego by Compass Pathways helped a lot of people with eating disorders with shrooms. He thinks Compass Pathways will get FDA approval for a fake or synthetic psilocybin.

“HMH is working to make sure psilocybin therapy is safe while being equitable and affordable,” Alcera argued.

Schepisi liked the idea of getting medical shrooms treatment like formal healthcare treatment.

“It still seems a little titled to the Oregon model, which is not truly a medical prescriber model,” she complained.

Schepisi emphasized she wanted doctors and hospitals as shroom guides/facilitators and psilocybin services centers.

“Rather than have pop-up stand-alone facilities opened by people with a high school degree,” she remarked.

Alcera noted a legal Oregon medical psilocybin trip is very expensive.

Many Medical Magic Mushrooms Concerns

HMH Vice President for Government Affairs Adam Beder said they’re working on a clinical trial to help patients.

“We don’t have a comment specifically on the bill,” he added.

“You’d like to see it prescribed by more than just MDs?” Senator Owen Henry (R-12) asked.

“We are following science,” Beder said.

“You’re scaring the hell out of me!” Henry exclaimed.

Denise Rue of the NJ Psychedelic Therapy Association said she worked at a legal psilocybin treatment center in Jamaica.

“It was my privilege to supervise over 1500 psilocybin sessions,” Rue explained.

“Psilocybin is non-toxic, non-addictive, and generally well tolerated by most people. It works well with a variety of mental health conditions,” she argued.

“Psilocybin saves lives!” Rue declared. “It’s like 10 years of therapy.”

Firefighter Joe McKay explained he knew 26 people who died on 9/11. He spent months clearing the debris of the World Trade Center at Ground Zero. McKay then developed severe cluster headaches that causes suicide because they hurt so much.

“Psilocybin gave me my life back!” he declared.

McKay realized he had severe PTSD.

“I found an underground facilitator who helped me,” he explained. “Please make psilocybin available for the people of New Jersey to heal.”

“Suffering from the level of PSTD that you had, I think that’s why a lot of us are on this bill,” Schepisi said.

Rue emphasized medical psilocybin helps patients the system has largely failed to help.

“Nothing has worked. They have been psychia-trized to death,” she exclaimed.

“That person, all they do is take a course that has not been created and don’t have to have a high school diploma?” Schepisi asked.

“That’s not the only model,” Rue argued.

Senator Angela McKnight (D-31) asked when McKay takes it.

McKay said he could take a 2-gram microdose when he thinks it’s wearing off, which helps continue his remission. He said if an attack occurs, he takes medical shrooms every 5 days to treat it to stop the new cluster of headaches since it’s more difficult once it starts to stop.

“I’ve had two years of remission,” McKay added.

Former Tenafly Councilwoman Lauren Cohn Dayton said she also suffers from cluster headaches but has no PTSD.

“Nothing has helped me. Psilocybin is my medicine. I’ve never smoked pot,” Dayton said.

McKnight asked about her treatment.

“I know my low dose. I am a community leader. This is something I do not have access to,” Dayton said.

“These therapy centers would be life-changing,” she added.

Dayton noted the need to keep it affordable.

“I understand many are asking for psychotherapy. But I am not sad. This is a pain relief,” she argued.

Dayton said a legal medical shroom trial from the Hackensack Carrier Clinic could take 10 years.

“I don’t have 10 years to wait. My children have found me passed out from the amount of pain. I’ve had morphine drips… every opioid. Not a single one touches the level of pain,” she declared. “This is life-changing medicine.”

UFCW union Organizer Mike Burry explained they are the official cannabis workers union and wanted to be the fungi (or mushroom) union.

“It’s… vital to ending the War on Drugs,” he said of medical mushrooms legalization. “The psilocybin industry would create many new jobs in New Jersey.

Burry wanted legal shrooms grown and tested in state facilities that could be unionized.

He noted that cannabis budtender workers’ rights are protected by the legislation that mandated Labor Peace Agreements so bosses won’t interfere with organizing a union.

“Medical home grow is a necessity,” Burry declared.

He noted the mistake with cannabis that makes it a felony.

“What does it cost?” McKnight asked.

“I usually get it from nature. Spores are a couple dollars. $50?” Dayton said.

Wait till our pharma gets a hold of it!” Henry exclaimed to dark laughter.

Dr. Hanna McLane of the Sound Mind Institute of Philadelphia said she is a licensed therapist. She said she set up her clinic as part of the Oregon training program and has certified 300 facilitators.

“The amount of healing I see with this medicine is astounding,” McLane declared.

She said her program includes a 250-hour training program for those with only a high school diploma. HM added it’s very difficult to enter the program and pass.

“We should have any and all tools available. Psilocybin in particular has been proven to… cure people,” cannabis professional and patient advocate Diana McElroy explained.

She said her friend died and wished she had medical magic mushrooms to ease her suffering.

“It is a cure. I am here on behalf of patients asking for it,” McElroy added.

Ayesha of the Noble Mushroom farm said they want to grow shrooms.

“We would like to see many farmers apply for licenses,” she said.

Ayesha explained she wanted them to create a New Jersey PS industry farmers could easily enter.

“It could help stabilize farms financially,” she argued.

Ayesha didn’t like that farmers were mentioned in the bill versus manufacturers.

She wanted to limit the size of operations of licensed businesses to protect small farmers.

“Please minimize the paperwork,” Ayesha added.

Medical cannabis home grow advocate Kristen Gooede of the Trichome Analytical testing lab said shrooms have many benefits. But she didn’t like the amendments.

“Social Equity considerations must be taken into account,” she declared.

Gooede didn’t like that it would not erase criminal records while creating an industry. She also said they got rid of medica mushrooms home grow.

“I caution against the removal of home grow,” Gooede exclaimed. “Otherwise, we will run into the same critical access issue we see in cannabis.”

She noted most patients struggle with the cost of medical marijuana.

“Please don’t make the same mistake you made in 2009!” Gooede declared.

The NJ Senate Health Committee passed the bill 6-2 with no further changes made.

A Stockton University poll said 57 percent of New Jersey supports medical psilocybin legalization.

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