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Reintroduced NJ Bill Seeks to Legalize Psilocybin

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The state of New Jersey may soon legalize the recreational and therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms, following the reintroduction of a measure that was withdrawn in 2023 for revision. The measure, called the Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act, concentrates on mental health.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. According to research, this compound is metabolized in the body to psilocyn and can penetrate the central nervous system.

The measure was tabled at the state Senate again last week and has strong support, particularly from Senate President Nick Scutari, who originally sponsored the recreational measure that legalized marijuana in New Jersey. If passed, it would establish a legal framework for the sale and manufacture of products that contain psilocybin.

It would also expunge pending and past offenses involving psilocybin while also decriminalizing the drug’s recreational use for individuals aged 21 years and above. If approved, individuals could use, inhale, ingest, store, possess, process and transport no more than four grams of psilocybin. Additionally, residents in the state would be permitted to cultivate magic shrooms for personal use.

The measure’s retabling comes as Hackensack Meridian, a major healthcare provider in the state, plans to administer hallucinogens as a medication for several disorders, among them depression. The company recently announced that it had partnered with Compass Pathways to study the company’s COMP360 psilocybin formulation.

Hackensack CEO Robert Garrett stated that this partnership may lead to trials and, in due time, create tangible change for individuals suffering from a range of mental-health ailments. The company’s senior VP for behavioral health, Kenneth Esser, also highlighted that Hackensack’s research wasn’t impacted by whether the aforementioned measure was approved, as clinical trials were overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA allows clinical trials to be conducted in accordance with its guidance.

The psychiatrist leading the company’s involvement in alternative forms of therapy for mental conditions, Dr. Eric Alcera, noted that while more research was needed, the results thus far had shown promise.

The psychedelic legalization movement has gained traction across the country in the last few years, as more cities have approved laws to decriminalize the compounds. When it comes to states, however, only two have approved similar laws.

The first to do so was Oregon, which decriminalized psilocybin and legalized it for nonsupervised medical use in 2020. The state of Colorado followed suit in 2022, decriminalizing psilocybin and other psychedelics for personal use. Other states are also pursuing similar measures, among them California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

With other startups such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) also conducting their own drug-development programs, it is only a matter of time before many approved psychedelic treatments are available to the patients who are in dire need of effective alternatives to existing mental-health treatments. Regulatory reform at state and national level appears certain to follow.

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