PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 7, 2022) – A bill introduced in the Rhode Island House would decriminalize “magic mushrooms” and would allow doctors to prescribe psilocybin as a therapeutic despite the federal prohibition of the same.
A coalition of four Democrats introduced House Bill 7715 (H7715) on March 2. The legislation would amend the states’ controlled substances law to specifically exclude psilocybin and buprenorphine. In effect, the proposed law would decriminalize both substances.
Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound found in certain mushrooms. Buprenorphine is an opioid used to treat opioid addiction.
H7715 would also authorize medical practitioners to prescribe, and dispense psilocybin as a therapeutic.
A number of studies have shown psilocybin to be effective in the treatment of depression, PTSD, chronic pain and addiction. For instance, a Johns Hopkins study found that “psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.”
Despite the move to decriminalize psilocybin and other and its promising medical uses, the federal government maintains a total ban on the substance. It also lists buprenorphine as a controlled substance.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains a complete prohibition of psilocybin. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate such substances within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Passage of H7715 would effectively end state enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of psilocybin in Rhode Island. As we’ve seen with marijuana and hemp, when states and localities stop enforcing laws banning a substance, the federal government finds it virtually impossible to maintain prohibition. For instance, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing or ending state prohibition, states sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state and local assistance, and the same will likely hold true with psilocybin.
Passage of H7715 would take the first step toward nullifying psilocybin prohibition in practice and effect.
H7715 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it must get a hearing and pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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