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PA Psilocybin Bill Could Make The State A Frontrunner In Psychedelic Research, Aiding Vets & First Responders

The state of Pennsylvania is poised to become a leader in psychedelic research after a bill known as the Public Health Benefits of Psilocybin Act was introduced recently in the House of Representatives.

The proposed legislation looks to create a framework for clinical studies of psilocybin, the active psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, which is proving effective at treating a range of ailments from depression to PTSD to drug dependency.

The bill coincides with significant public support demonstrated by similar legislation enacted nationally, including Oregon recently legalizing psilocybin-assisted therapy in medical settings and decriminalization laws passed from Oakland to Washington D.C., making personal possession and use of psilocybin-containing mushrooms the lowest local law enforcement priority.

A key sponsor of the Pennsylvania bill is State Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Montgomery), an Army veteran of 26 years who assembled a cadre of 20 cosponsors – a blend of Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the occupational hazards inherent to U.S. military service members. An aspect of Pennycuick’s bill directs the PA Department of Health, which would oversee the research program, to prioritize clinical studies involving military veterans and retired first responders, who are at high risk of depression, PTSD and anxiety due to stressful working conditions.

“I have PTSD, so it interests me,” Pennycuick told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. “Not every treatment works for every veteran. So you have to be always leaning forward into treatment.”

The bill would give researchers leeway to circumvent onerous federal regulations that still categorize psilocybin as having no accepted medical use — despite mounting evidence from studies conducted at venerable institutions like Johns Hopkins and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai proving the efficacy of psilocybin therapy for mental maladies.

A prime mover for the bill in PA likely has something to do with the renowned University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where research of the chemistry and pharmacology of psychedelics is being conducted in tandem with the COMPASS Discovery Center team, which includes celebrated chemist, filmmaker and science correspondent Hamilton Morris.

In the face of mounting suicide rates, as well as new data published this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that saw national overdose deaths exceeding 100,000 for the first time over a 12 month period, new therapies like psilocybin therapy may be arriving in just the nick of time. In fact, there is already movement on the federal front, as the FDA has designated psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression as a “breakthrough therapy,” a status granted when preliminary clinical evidence indicates that a drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapies.


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