PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two Rhode Island lawmakers are pushing to decriminalize the use of so-called “magic mushrooms” statewide.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter and Sen. Meghan Kallman, hinges upon whether the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approves psilocybin as a treatment for chronic mental health disorders.
“Veterans and many others in our community are struggling with chronic [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], depression and other mental health disorders that can be totally debilitating,” Potter said. “We should give them the freedom to try every tool available and not criminalize a natural, effective remedy.”
The legislation would allow Rhode Islanders to possess up to one ounce of psilocybin or grow magic mushrooms at home for personal use.
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.
Current federal law classifies psilocybin as a Schedule 1 drug alongside fentanyl and cocaine, both of which are highly addictive. State law puts the hallucinogen in the same category as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Advocates argue that the drug has been improperly classified for far too long.
“Psilocybin is not addictive,” Kallman said. “It’s naturally occurring and people have been using it recreationally and medicinally for thousands of years.”
“It is only illegal because, over 50 years ago, President Nixon associated it with his political opponents,” she continued. “It’s time to undo that mistake and give our neighbors struggling with chronic mental illness, and all Rhode Islanders, the freedom to use psilocybin responsibly.”
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.