Texas Drug Enthusiasts
A Texan lawmaker proposed a bill on Wednesday, February 10th, that would require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine in the treatment of certain mental health conditions.
The legislation from Rep. Alex Dominguez (D) would mandate that the Department of State Health Services conduct a study, in collaboration with the Texas Medical Board, and report on its findings by December 1, 2022. Researchers should “evaluate and determine whether alternative therapies are effective in treating the mental health and other medical conditions” such as but not limited to: depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic pain and migraines, the text of the bill, HB 1802, states.
The study would also “compare the efficacy of the alternative therapies with the efficacy of treatments currently used for mental health and other medical conditions,” it continues. The bill comes as the debate about drug policy reform is increasingly extending beyond marijuana and is just the latest example of state lawmakers taking psychedelics and other alternative therapies more seriously amid a national movement to decriminalize substances that have played out in cities across the country in recent years.
In Oregon, voters approved historic initiatives to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes and decriminalize drugs more broadly in November. Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Virginia and Washington State are also considering psychedelics and drug policy reform bills for the 2021 session. A GOP legislator in Iowa also introduced legislation that would decriminalize psilocybin this week.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana Movement in Texas
But getting psychedelics reform passed in Texas may prove challenging given the state legislature’s resistance to marijuana legalization over the years. That said, there are some signals that lawmakers are feeling more open to the debate this session. More than a dozen pieces of marijuana legislation were prefiled for 2021, and that includes proposals that would legalize cannabis for adult use, legalize high-THC cannabis for medical use and decriminalize small-scale possession of marijuana.
House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said last month that the chamber “will look at [reform measures] again and review those again, and some will get traction, some will not.” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the state Senate, suggested that he may be inclined to entertain debate over further medical cannabis reform, but he’s made clear that he’s opposed to broader legalization.
“We’re always listening on the health issues, but we’re not going to turn this into California,” he said, “where anybody can get a slip from the doctor and go down to some retail store and say, ‘You know, I got a headache today so I need marijuana,’ because that’s just a veil for legalizing it for recreational use.”
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