Washington Psychedelic Bill SB 5263 Gains Bipartisan Support for Psilocybin
Sixteen democrats and two republicans are co-sponsoring the Washington Psilocybin Services Wellness and Opportunity Act drafted by Senator Jesse Salomon
On January 10, Washington State Senator Jesse Salomon pre-filed a new psychedelic bill for the 2023 legislative session. The Washington Psilocybin Services Wellness and Opportunity Act (SB 5263) would legalize the supported adult use of psilocybin. If enacted, SB 5263 could be the first bill of its kind approved by state lawmakers (previous bills of this type were ballot initiatives passed by voters in Oregon and Colorado).
SB 5263 has already gained bipartisan support. Sixteen democrats and two republicans have joined Salomon as co-sponsors. They include Senator Ann Rivers, Republican Chair of the Health & Long Term Care Committee, and Republican Ron Muzzall, Assistant Ranking Member of the Committee. Democratic co-sponsors include Senators Nobles, Lovick, Lovelett, Hunt, Hasegawa, Mullet, Trudeau, Robinson, Pedersen, Wellman, Wilson, Kuderer, Keiser, Liias, and Van De Wege.
Senator Salomon pre-filed a previous version of the bill (SB 5660) on January 5, 2022. Five days later, it was referred to the Health & Long Term Care Committee. On February 2, 2022, the Committee held a public hearing where doctors, therapists, lawyers, and activists urged legislators to support SB 5660.
I testified on a panel of medical experts organized by the Psychedelic Medicine Alliance of Washington (PMAW). Despite impressive testimony, SB 5660 did not progress beyond the Committee. Instead, in March 2022, the legislature allocated $200,000 to form the Washington Psilocybin Work Group within the state Health Care Authority. Since June 30, 2022, the Work Group has met periodically to discuss psychedelic laws and their implementation. The legislature tasked the group with delivering a report by December 1, 2022. But none has materialized.
Nevertheless, Salomon’s SB 5263 reflects wisdom gained from Oregon’s recent implementation of Measure 109, the Oregon Psilocybin Services Act, as well as Colorado’s November passage of Proposition 122, the Natural Medicine Health Act. Like those ballot initiatives, SB 5263 would allow clients to consume psilocybin with support from state-licensed facilitators. However, SB 5263 distinguishes itself from past legislation (on Monday, I published a detailed preview describing its unique features).
You can read the full text of SB 5363 at WashingtonPsilocybin.org. Though it could be the first supported adult use bill enacted by a state legislature, other state bills are competing for this honor, potentially including a Vermont proposal and Illinois’s recently announced Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens (CURE) Act (other states like New York and New Mexico, are promoting bills that are better described as decriminalization bills or medical use legislation). But Washington has the benefit of experience. Its experts and advocates have watched Oregon’s Measure 109 unfold, and they’ve engaged with Washington lawmakers and regulators for over a year.
With growing bipartisan support, SB 5263 could have what it takes to cross the finish line. Members of the public can submit comments on the bill for the state legislature.
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*The views expressed on Psychedelic Week do not represent the views of POPLAR at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School or the Florida State University College of Law. Psychedelic Week is an independent project unaffiliated with these programs and institutions.
Mason Marks, MD, JD is the Florida Bar Health Law Section Professor at the Florida State University College of Law. He is the senior fellow and project lead of the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR) at the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School and an affiliated fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Marks teaches drug law, constitutional law, and administrative law. Before moving to Florida, he served on the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board where he chaired its Licensing Subcommittee. Marks has drafted drug policies for state and local lawmakers. His forthcoming book on psychedelic law and politics will be published by Yale University Press. He tweets at @MasonMarksMD and @PsychedelicWeek.