Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the federal and state classifications of certain controlled substances.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island is one step closer to decriminalizing so-called “magic mushrooms” statewide.
The House approved legislation Monday that would allow Rhode Islanders to possess up to one ounce of psilocybin or grow magic mushrooms at home for personal use.
It would also, contingent on approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allow psilocybin to be used as a treatment for chronic mental health disorders.
“This is a step toward addressing mental health treatment in a modern way based on evidence and research,” Rep. Brandon Potter, one of the bill’s sponsors said. “Psilocybin can be used safely, both recreationally and therapeutically, and for our veterans and neighbors who are struggling with chronic PTSD, depression and addiction, it can be a valuable treatment tool.”
“Adults in our state deserve the freedom to decide for themselves and have access to every treatment possible, rather than have our state criminalize a natural, non-addictive, effective remedy,” he continued.
Psilocybin is described as a naturally occurring hallucinogen produced by more than 200 species of fungi. Researchers in the United States first isolated the compound in 1959 and began using it in psychotherapy treatments.
It wasn’t until President Richard Nixon launched his “war on drugs” in the 1970s that the use of psilocybin became illegal, which prevented researchers from further exploring its therapeutic value.
Oregon became the first state to decriminalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin in 2020, followed by Colorado in 2022. New York, New Jersey and Vermont are also considering legalizing the drug.
Federal and state laws classify psilocybin as a Schedule I controlled substance, which puts the hallucinogen on the same level as cannabis and heroin. Fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine, all of which are highly addictive, are Schedule II substances, as they have legitimate medical uses.
The legislation would require the Rhode Island Department of Health to regulate the use of psilocybin as a treatment should it be approved by the FDA. The provisions of the bill would sunset on July 1, 2025, unless extended by the R.I. General Assembly.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where Sen. Meghan Kallman has introduced similar legislation.