With the New Year right around the corner, cultural forecasts for 2023 are sweeping the globe. With every rotation around the sun, humans, along with all other life on earth, grow older, wiser, and more in-tune with who we are, why we exist in this form, and why we on this form we call planet Earth– Gaia, Mother Earth, Terra.
As each year comes to a close, we tend to reflect on the progress we’ve made, the challenges we’ve encountered, and the ways in which we aim to nourish our growth in the following year.
While you think about your 2022 highlight reel and set resolutions for 2023, we’re here to do the same on behalf of psychedelic drug reform. This article will dive into the status of psychedelic drug reform and review the progress we’ve seen this past year. A quick heads up– psychedelics have never seen such united, diverse, and mass support in the history of our modern Western Society.
A Recap of Psychedelic Reform Through The Years
By now, it’s common knowledge that Western psychedelic activism saw its first peak in the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s. The synthesis of LSD went on to inspire a cross-country Peace movement, led by the awakened youth– more commonly referred to as the Hippies of the psychedelic era.
Soon after though, the war on drugs banned all recreational use of psychedelics, taking with it our human rights to conduct psychedelic research, and muffling the medicinal utility of all psychedelic medicine. Of course, truth can only be suppressed for so long before it resurfaces, and the past few years have been a testament to the unwavering medicinal potential of psychedelic drugs.
In a year full of roses and thorns, we’ll reflect on one major rose. In 2022, we saw an exponential uptick in psychedelic reform bills being introduced throughout the country. From 5 reform bills introduced in 2019, to 6 new pieces of legislation in 2020– we were seeing the first waves in the soon-to-be exponential adoption of state-wide psychedelic policies.
Later, 2022 ushered in a stupendous 36 psychedelic reform bills nationally, with 90% focusing specifically on psilocybin or ‘magic’ mushrooms. We’ve seen massive wins for psychedelic reform this year, accompanied by an ever-more narrowing gap between liberal and conservative support.
The simple fact that psychedelic drug reform is becoming a more bipartisan conversation, speaks volumes on the evolution we’ve made on both the individual and systemic scale. It’s a triumph in itself, a promise of progress.
On a lifetime scale, psychedelic reform is already breaking record speeds. To honor that, let’s take a closer look at the nature of reform proposed by these bills. The bills introduced this past year are focused more on decriminalization than legalization. The following sections break down psychedelic legalization and decriminalization, state-by-state and at the federal level.
A Summary of Federal Psychedelic Reform in 2022
In 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to adopt several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), in favor of psychedelic research. In July 2022, the House approved an amendment authorizing the Secretary of Defense to approve grants for therapeutic use of 5-MeO-DMT for active military personnel diagnosed with PTSD.
In the same month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed an amendment that would expand this sponsored study, suggesting the inclusion of MDMA. Later, in November of this year, Democratic Senator– Cory Booker and Republican Senator– Rand Paul introduced the Breakthrough Therapies Act (BTA), which highlights significant breakthroughs in the research and classification of controlled substances.
The BTA aims to re-classify FDA-designated Schedule I drugs that qualify for therapeutic designation under the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act to Schedule II drugs. The Act would also amend the registration process for researchers studying Schedule I or II substances, to allow multiple researchers within the same institution to conduct their studies without needing to obtain individual registrations.
Overall, BTA streamlines the research approval process and grants research permission on Schedule I or II drugs as early as 20 days after the registration process. Also in November, another bipartisan effort emerged between a republican and democratic senator.
California Democratic Representative– Lou Correa, and Michigan Republican Representative– Jack Bergman, have come together to launch the Congressional Psychedelics Advancing Clinical Treatments (PACT) Caucus, aiming to analyze efficacy of therapeutic psychedelic use, as well as increase federal funding for psychelic research.
A State-By-State Review of Psychedelic Reform in 2022
It would be remiss to start this conversation in any place other than Oregon– the first state to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy back in 2020. Since this monumental piece of legislation, Oregon has begun modifying some of the barriers and restrictions surrounding therapeutic psilocybin services.
In January 2022, state lawmakers initiated a task force to investigate and recommend best practices for addressing equity and access issues within the current, novel model. The task force is charged with tackling barriers that prevent low income communities and people of color from participating in Oregon’s psilocybin services, as either business owners, facilitators, or clients.
The application process for creating a service center or becoming a facilitator is slated to begin in January of 2023. Regulations require all centers to have a safety and security plan for each client, but do not require a “client support person”– or in other words, a facilitator, to be present.
Oakland and Santa Cruz both unanimously passed resolutions to decriminalize personal possession and use of psychedelics in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Arcata, California passed a decriminalization legislature in 2021. This year also welcomed San Francisco as the newest city on that list.
Denver, Colorado was famously the first American city to decriminalize personal possession and use of psilocybin in 2019. However, just this year, Colorado passed Proposition 122, making it the second U.S. state to legalize the medical use of psychedelics in licensed “healing centers.”
This is projected to become effective in 2024, and much like we’ve seen with cannabis legalization, the de jure enactment of a law usually precedes the de facto implementation or rollout by quite a bit of time.
According to the Colorado General Assembly, psilocybin falls under the umbrella category of “natural medicine” which is now permitted by the proposition. The term is to be expanded on June 1, 2026, to include dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, and mescaline.
The Department of Regulatory Agencies has until January 1, 2024 to establish the specific qualifications, education, and training requirements that facilitators will be required to meet in order to provide psychedelic services.
All eyes are looking foward to these administrative regulations. They’ll be gradually passed in the upcoming years to develop a comprehensive and smooth-moving picture of what regulated access to psychedelics will actually look like. This will likely be instrumental for not only Colorado’s psychedelic progression, but also for other states closely following suit.
In September 2020, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan decriminalized the personal use, possession, and cultivation of psychedelics. This measure has since been expanded county-wide to all of Ann Arbor’s home county– Washtenaw county.
Detroit is another big city that effectively decriminalized personal use and possession of psychedelic plants and fungi in 2021. Hazel Park city saw the most recent development in Michigan psychedelic reform, with decriminalization of possession in 2022.
Cambridge, Massachusetts was one of the first cities to decriminalize entheogens (psychoactive plant substances) in February 2021. As it stands today, the city of Easthampton, Northampton, and Somerville have also passed decriminalization bills, making prosecution for use or possession of psychedelic substances of least criminal priority.
Port Townsend and Seattle unanimously decriminalized entheogenic plants and fungi. There is currently a proposed resolution in the state of Washington to decriminalize natural psychedelic medicine on a state legislature level.
Psychedelic mushrooms have been decriminalized in Washington D.C. since 2020!
States Currently Working on Psilocybin Wellness Policies
Let’s take a moment to insert a quick reminder that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Current activism efforts by scientists and government officials are focused on legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for medical use, at state and federal levels.
Oregon and Colorado are pivotal leaders laying the groundwork. Cities and states in which psychedelic plants are decriminalized do not indicate that legal psychedelic therapy is provided there, but it does mean you can partake in ceremonial use without facing criminal prosecution.
Aside from decriminalization, several states have introduced legislations that broaden their psychedelic horizon and authorize certain research groups and executive boards to monitor the gradual introduction of psilocybin wellness policies.
These states include Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virgina.
Check out our resources page for state-specific information. Notably, this list includes a combination of both red and blue states, indicating that psychedelic use is effectively crossing political lines.
Statistics on Nation-Wide Support For Psychedelic Reform
In many ways, 2022 has been a year of promise and progress, but drug reform is an intrinsically slow-moving process. Drug policy has always been inextricably driven by bumper-to-bumper political traffic, and for that reason, we can never expect a radical change to occur overnight.
However, it’s also for this reason that evidence of both democratic and republican support for psychedelic reform is particularly hopeful. Altogether, 25 states have collectively considered 74 bills, of which 10 were inactive and 32 are still currently active.
As a final wrap on psychedelic legislative reform in 2022, a December study published an analytic model based on marijuana legalization, projecting that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2034 to 2037.
In Figure 1, a color-coded map highlights where each state stands in terms of psychedelic drug policy. Symbolically, the more colors we see on the map, the more we can feel colorfully optimistic about a psychedelic-friendly future.
Note. Figure 1. Psychedelic Legalization & Decriminalization Tracker (Calyxlaw & Emerge Law Group, 2022).
Explore How it Feels to be Connected
We’ve compiled this complete guide to help you track how far psychedelic policies have come, and where we’re on track to be. If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2023 is to experience psychedelic-induced mental, emotional, or spiritual growth, look no further.
Here, at Psychedelic Passage, we provide therapeutic psychedelic experiences throughout the United States. Our pre-vetted network of trusted and experienced psychedelic facilitators make qualifying potential guides easier than ever.
If you’re interested in embarking on a therapeutic psychedelic journey, we empower you to book a consultation with us. Reflection is important and thinking about the future is exciting, but there is no day like the present. Carpe diem and consult our network of professionals to jump start your journey. That’s all for now, fellow psychonauts. Safe and mindful journeying all through 2023.