A New Jersey magic mushrooms/ psilocybin legalization hearing was held in the State Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Committee.
National Medical Experts Testify
Dr. Yvan Beaussant from the Dana Farber Cancer Center at Harvard University said a study showed that after six months of treatment, psilocybin
patients appreciate the effects of the session.
“A significant number of them were continuing to get benefits,” he said.
“How long does this last in the system? Robert Singer (R-Ocean) said.
He had workforce concerns.
“Can they drive a truck?” Singer asked.
“It varies. It lasts 4 to 6 hours. People are required not to drive 24 hours following administration,” Beaussant said.
“Are there different types of psilocybin you would use? And the dosage would be a matter of focus. Can you talk a little about that?” Committee Chair Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex) asked.
Beaussant said micro-dosing for psilocybin and MDMA, the formal name of the club drug Ecstasy or Molly, are effective.
“There are a range of different dosages that could be used,” he said.
“The half-life of the product that stayed in the system will be pretty much the same,” Beaussant said.
Understanding Psychedelic Drugs
Vitale noted the nature of an acid flashback.
“Do any of these drugs… have any long-term effects?” he asked.
“It’s hard to know the nature of the product that is used,” Beaussant replied. “This hasn’t been described in any of the controlled studies. We’re very careful.”
“I know you have micro-dosing. How many doses? How long are you seeing the benefits last?” Senator Holli Schepisi (R-Bergen) asked.
She also had driving and work concerns.
“Is this a daily type of dosage? Is it once a month in a supervised setting?” Schepisi asked.
Beaussant said they’re studying hospice patients right now. Many come to their facility. They ingest it at 9 am and will last to about 3-4 pm. Psilocybin patients can leave between 5-6 pm when driven home by someone else.
“We check in the next day. We discuss the psilocybin effect. They’ll come twice after the dosing,” Beaussant said.
“How often does someone come in? Schepisi asked.
“Most research studies have used a single dose in cancer care. They continue to meet with the therapist,” Beaussant said.
He said the experience can be very meaningful.
“People may work through some grief,” Beaussant noted.
New Jersey Psilocybin Legislative Hearing
Dr. Frederick Barret, a Professor at the Psychedelic and Conscious Research at Johns Hopkins University, has studied psilocybin for treating depression and alcoholism. He said his statements don’t represent Hopkins.
Barret explained that 8 hours of therapy over a few weeks occur before psilocybin or MDMDA is administered. Patients experience therapy for weeks or months afterward. After two doses, half the patients were in remission for depression for at least a year. He said they had made groundbreaking progress.
Barret noted there are three large national psilocybin studies are going on so that they could be approved for mass use. He also noted the MDMDA study is also being done.
“People expect that to be approved within the next year,” Barret said.
He explained 25 grams is a standard dose. He added that they hadn’t had flashbacks in studies.
“I’m not sure they’re associated with psilocybin. It is being monitored by the (Food and Drug Administration) FDA,” Barret said.
He said the effect is negligent. But few studies have been conducted on the idea of many regular microdoses of magic mushrooms. But it may lead to heart issues with chronic dosing.
Barret explained that there is no threat of any long-term physical problems in a standard dose. He noted psilocybin has worked for alcoholics to return to moderate drinking versus chronic alcoholism.
Barret said that regarding addiction, “It is very rare. There’s no known case of someone being administered a dose in a clinical setting and developing an addiction.”
He noted the nature of bad psychedelic trips, which is why they closely monitor patients.
“All these effects are time-limited,” Barret noted.
“What are some of the known long-term side effects?” Schepisi asked.
Barret said that the FDA is conducting psilocybin trials for depression and MDMA for PTSD “to figure out what we should tell the consumer. That process has not completed.”
He said it would take three to five years. Barret noted bad trips have led to many issues.
“We haven’t seen any of those effects in our controlled clinical trials,” he said. “In uncontrolled settings, people can be leading up to harm.”
“Would there be more than therapy presented? How do you deal with all that? Vitale asked.
Helping Psilocybin Patients
Barret said psilocybin patients were told to get off anti-depressant drugs to ensure it worked.
“I am one of the sponsors of this bill. Having this legalized for the purpose of medical structures makes sense,” Schepisi said. “Just want thoughts on the differential.”
“The evidence is lining up behind the potential for psilocybin and MDMA and treating depression and PTSD,” Barret said.
He wants the FDA to finish its process.
“While it might take a very long time, sometimes too long… I want to respect that process,” Barret said. “I see the criminalization of possession of compounds like this leads to a magnitude of more harms than good.”
Dr. Caroline Dorsen of the Rutgers University School of Nursing explained she has studied psilocybin.
“Psychedelics allow people to do a self-correction in their lives. Their trauma became just one part of their lives,” she explained.
“I’ve always felt a little pit in my heart. Due to thing work, the hole got filled. People talk about how psychedelics changed their relations,” Dorsen added. “They spoke of wanting to take better of themselves, of others, and the Earth.”
She said people become more social and more empathetic.
“Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) said it could be the antidote to “discrimination and hate,” Dorsen said.
She noted only limited studies have been conducted thus far.
“Forget all of that you have heard about psychedelics. Focus on the data,” Dorsen added.
Magic Mushrooms Helping Firefighter Cope with 9/11 Effects
Retired Firefighter Joe McKay, who experienced 9/11, explained psilocybin had helped him.
“It was like hell on Earth,” he said.
McKay noted of his good friends of his died. He then joined Cluster Busters to advocate for himself and others getting very severe cluster headaches. McKay noted the treatment he had was very ineffective.
“I thought of taking my own life more than once,” he said. “Psilocybin healed me both physically and mentally.”
John Kostas explained how the New York University (NYU) Langone Center successfully treated him for alcoholism with psilocybin.
“This therapy eliminated any and all cravings I had for alcohol,” he said. “I have not needed anything aside from psilocybin.”
Kostas was cured ten years ago, he said. He said he launched Apollo Pact to help others.
“This is something that we should keep going?” Senator Edward Durr (R-Gloucester) asked.
“We need to do this right,” McKay said.
He noted the merit of controlled settings.
“You were willing to risk anything?” Durr asked.
“I needed to take it. I needed somebody with me… holding my hand,” McKay said. “The therapeutic model being put forward is the best way to go. If we put up too many hurdles, then it’s like being on the Suicide Hot Line and being put on hold.”
McKay said he home grows magic mushrooms for his treatment. He explained that three doses over a short period helps.
Home grow of cannabis remains a felony in New Jersey for patients.
“How often do you take your dose?” Vitale asked.
Kostas said he went to three clinical psilocybin/magic mushrooms sessions.
“There is a lot to learn,” Vitale said before adjourning the hearing.