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Washington state lawmakers again consider legalizing 'shrooms'

Magic mushrooms psilocybe
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Tania Malréchauffé for Unsplash

For the second time, the Washington State Legislature is considering legalizing psilocybin, the psychedelic drug found in magic mushrooms.

State Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline) is the bill’s main sponsor. He said the primary case for legalizing the drug is that guided experiences with psilocybin have been found to help alleviate some mental health conditions, including depression, PTSD, and addiction.

“We are having a mental health crisis and we need all the tools we can have to deal with it,” Salomon said.

“It’s really safe to use,” said Tatiana Luz, co-director of the Psychedelic Medicine Alliance of Washington, which advocates for legalization. “Folks should have access to medicines that can help them heal.”

If passed, the bill would not require that people have a medical diagnosis or prescription.

Instead, people 21 or older could legally take psilocybin in a state-licensed service center, which could be a clinical setting or, for example, a house of worship, private residence, or outdoor space. The bill would not allow people to take psilocybin in their own homes.

Luz said the bill’s many requirements would make it very expensive to take psilocybin, so she hopes it would be followed by more expansive legalization.

The bill has provisions aimed at making psilocybin use economically accessible.

Oregon became the first state in the country to legalize medical psilocybin in 2020, and Washington’s latest bill is modeled off that experience.

A similar bill failed last year; opponents said they worried about “bad trips” and implementation of the drug's use, including whether the state’s health department has the bandwidth to build the required regulation and oversight, and whether the Department of Justice would crack down on a drug that’s still outlawed at the federal level. This year’s bill addresses some of those concerns, and has more co-sponsors, including at least a couple from each political party.

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