An Illinois state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would legalize psychedelics including psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, for therapeutic use. The bill, dubbed The Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens (CURE) Act, was introduced by Democratic state Representative La Shawn Ford on Wednesday.
The bill, which Ford unveiled on the opening day of the new legislative session in Illinois, would create a regulated psychedelic therapy program that would be overseen by an advisory committee. The measure, which has been designated as House Bill 1 (HB1), also removes the criminal penalties for the personal use of psilocybin, a provision Ford said in a statement was needed to protect patients and providers. Ford noted that while existing criminal prohibitions on the drugs are rarely enforced, “formally removing them ensures that patients won’t be turned into criminals simply for seeking health, healing and wellness.”
“I’ve been seeing more and more legitimate scientific evidence, including information coming from the FDA, showing that psychedelic therapy is not only safe, but also very effective, particularly for the toughest patients for whom other treatments have not worked,” Ford said in a press release about the legislation. “At the same time, I am also hearing from patients and from their medical providers, that Illinoisans should have access to these exciting new treatment options.”
HB 1 Legalizes Psychedelic Therapies in Illinois
Under the legislation, adults aged 18 and up will be permitted to seek supervised psychedelic therapy from trained facilitators. Psychedelic compounds used under the program must be produced and tested at licensed facilities. Ford stressed that while the measure legalizes possession of psychedelics, it does not authorize any type of commercial sales of entheogenic compounds.
“I want to be clear that this is a health measure. My proposal does not allow retail sales of psilocybin outside of a regulated therapeutic setting and ensures that medicines purchased for therapeutic use at a service center must be used under medical supervision, and cannot be taken home,” said Ford. “Only licensed facilitators will be allowed to provide treatment at closely regulated and licensed healing centers, approved health care facilities, in hospice, or at a pre-approved patient residence.”
Ford noted in his statement that a growing body of research into entheogenic plants and fungi such as psilocybin is showing that the drugs have the potential to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. Psychedelics may also be effective treatments for neurological conditions such as cluster headaches, migraines, cancer, and phantom limbs. Psychedelic-assisted therapy is so promising that psilocybin has been given “breakthrough treatment” status designation by the FDA.
Bill Marks A New Step In Psychedelics Policy Reform Efforts
Although the bill is focused on naturally occurring psychedelic compounds, Joshua Kappel, founding partner of the cannabis and psychedelic law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, notes that the bill’s provisions are not limited to traditionally cultivated or foraged entheogens. The difference marks a significant evolution of psychedelics policy reform efforts, which so far have resulted in two states legalizing psilocybin for therapeutic use.
“It builds off Colorado and Oregon in a very thoughtful and progressive way, including permitting synthetic varieties of the natural medicines permitted in Colorado,” Kappel writes in an email to High Times, “which is key development from a sustainability perspective.”
House Bill 1 has already gained the support of a broad coalition of medical and mental health professionals, researchers, patients, and grassroots psychedelic reform activists. Many have joined forces to form Entheo IL to lead the psychedelics policy reform efforts in Illinois.
“The push for legal access to entheogenic medicines is broad at the state level, such as in Oregon and Colorado, as well as at the federal level,” Jean Lacy, the executive director of the new group, said in a statement. “This legislation will ensure Illinois is a leader in developing the infrastructure needed for this work.”