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Helping veterans, battling opioid addiction driving magic mushroom legislation progress

Psilocybin bills are gaining traction in the New York State legislature (WRGB){p}{/p}
Psilocybin bills are gaining traction in the New York State legislature (WRGB)

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Forty lawmakers, 36 Democrats and 4 Republicans, have co-sponsored a bill aiming to allow for the medical use of psilocybin and a psilocybin therapy grant program, which is currently sitting at the committee level of the Assembly, with its Senate version also in committee. The Assembly bill, A03581, was introduced by Democrat Pat Burke in February. There has been other legislation introduced regarding the hallucinogen as well, with Linda Rosenthal's version legalizing the adult possession and use of hallucinogens like it.

Research has shown that psilocybin, an organic psychedelic compound, can benefit people with cluster headaches, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, ADHD and obsessive compulsive disorder, but it's getting the most universal traction because of its impact on those suffering from PTSD.

"Psilocybin doesn't have the huge appeal that marijuana had," Democrat Assemblyman Phil Steck, who is the Assembly's Chairman of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, says. "But, there are definitely people who make a strong case for the proposition that it helps with PTSD. Certainly we want to do everything that we can to help people that are coming back from war, and if psilocybin has proven to do that, then it should be legal for that purpose."

Johns Hopkins University has conducted several studies on psilocybin, saying it has substantial antidepressant effects, but needs to be administered under carefully controlled conditions through trained clinicians and therapists.

MORE: 'Magic mushroom' psychedelic may help heavy drinkers quit

Collar City Mushrooms Owner Avery Stempel has been pushing for this legislation to be enacted, saying he gets several requests for psilocybin, but due to the law is unable to grow or offer the mushrooms. He says one individual switched from opioids to psilocybin and found success.

"He got hooked on oxycodone and other morphine opioid products, so when he finally resigned from the fire department because he wasn't able to fulfill his duties, depression kicked in," Stempel says. "He said 'you know what, I've heard about this medicine (psilocybin), I'm gonna try it." And it worked, his cluster headaches went away."

While several individuals have shared similar experiences, some are still hesitant to fully endorse the decriminalization of the product, saying more research needs to be done.

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"Whether that body of learning is conclusive enough to warrant legalizing for that limited purpose remains to be seen," Assemblyman Steck says.

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