Psilocybin Treatment Centers Bill Vetoed by Arizona Governor

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill on June 18 that would have permitted the use of psilocybin in designated treatment centers.

If House Bill 1570 became law, it would have granted $5 million in annual funding to go toward psilocybin therapy. The Department of Human Services would have been in charge of the program and developing a regulated approach to licensing therapy centers as well as facilitators who would be trained to assist patients through the experience. Additionally, the Arizona Psilocybin Advisory Board would have also been created, consisting of a variety of members such as the governor, attorney general’s office officials, military veterans and first responders, physicians, and researchers. It would be the responsibility of the board to make recommendations for the law, conduct studies, and ultimately develop a program with which to train staff to work at therapy centers.

According to her veto statement, Hobbs explained her stance on the bill. “The state’s psilocybin research advisory board established last year recently issued its annual report, with a clear message: although psilocybin may be a promising treatment in the future, we do not yet have the evidence needed to support widespread clinical expansion,” Hobbs said. “Arizonans with depression and PTSD deserve access to treatments that may be seen as outside the mainstream, but they should not be the subject of experiments for unproven therapies with a lack of appropriate guardrails.”

In her letter, Hobbs continued by adding that the cost of $400,000 per year was not included in the FY25 budget. “Last year’s budget included $5 million for psilocybin research which will be allowed to continue with this year’s budget,” she concluded. “This will allow research to take place with a goal to ensure that those who seek psilocybin treatment are doing so confidently and safely under proper supervision of qualified professionals with documented and verified research to support the treatment.”

Cameron Arcand, a reporter for local Arizona news outlet The Center Square, published a screenshot of a text sent to him by the bill’s sponsor, T.J. Shope, on social media. “Well, it’s a disappointing result after months of hard work and the overwhelming bipartisan support this received in both houses of the Legislature this year,” Shope stated. “If we were still in session, I’d be pushing to override her veto but I’ll have to settle for trying again next year. I won’t stop fighting for our veterans and first responders to get the mental health care they deserve in these clinical settings. Sadly, Arizonans will now have to continue leaving their own state and country to receive this type of treatment. It’s truly a sad day for those who have put everything on the line for us.”

Arizona now joins California in having bipartisan support on a psilocybin treatment centers bill being vetoed by its governor. Similarly in October 2023, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 58, which would have decriminalized possession and use of psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, and mescaline for adults over 21. While Newsom confirmed that he supports new methods of treatment to tackle mental health conditions, the bill was not yet ready to be passed, in his opinion. “California should immediately begin work to set up regulated treatment guidelines—replete with dosing information, therapeutic guidelines, rules to prevent against exploration during guided treatments, and medical clearance of no underlying psychoses,” Newsom explained in a statement at the time. “Unfortunately, this bill would decriminalize possession prior to these guidelines going into place, and I cannot sign this.”

SB-58 sponsor, Sen. Scott Weiner, expressed his disappointment for the setback, although he plans to continue to fight for alternative drug treatments for veterans and first responders. “This veto is a huge missed opportunity for California to follow the science and lead,” Weiner stated. “This is not the end of our fight, however, and given the Governor’s commitment to work with the Legislature on legislation with a therapeutic focus—and openness to future decriminalization legislation—I look forward to introducing therapeutic-focused legislation next year.” Weiner introduced new legislation under Senate Bill 1012 in February, but currently the last action taken was in May so far.

While Oregon was the first state to legalize licensed psilocybin treatment centers back in November 2020 (although the first license wasn’t approved until May 2023), the program overall appears to be struggling. Between June 2023-June 2024, an estimated 3,500 people had participated in a legal psilocybin therapy session, which is projected to increase to 7,000 people by the end of 2024. However, one treatment center owner, Tori Armbrust of Satori Farms PDX, said that treatment centers may begin to close due to lack of consistent customers. Starting in 2025, Oregon will permit out-of-state business owners to obtain licenses to operate treatment centers, which will create more competition for local business owners.

Another Oregon-based psilocybin treatment center owner, Matthew Wissler, added that most patients come to Oregon from out-of-state or even out of the country to try out the treatment.

The post Psilocybin Treatment Centers Bill Vetoed by Arizona Governor first appeared on High Times.


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