The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow the use of psychedelics for medical and scientific research. The vote was 102–50, with all Democrats and only four Republicans voting against the legislation.

The Texas State Senate held its 21st reading of the bill, SB 339, to legalize medical research on the use of psychedelic drugs in recent years. Its called the “Texas Compassionate Use Act” and now days it is being referred to as “The Texas Compassionate Use Act.” The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 25-10 and the House by a vote of 94-0. The bill now goes to Governor Rick Perry to be signed into law, making Texas the first state in the US to legalize the use of psychedelics in the treatment of mental illness.

Source: Shutterstock word-image-9051 Most psychedelics have been banned in the United States since the 1960s. But in the November 2020 election, Oregon became the very first state to legalize magic mushrooms. Washington, D.C., decriminalized the active ingredient in mushrooms, psilocybin. Denver, Oakland and Santa Cruz, California, have done the same. A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly hopes to do the same. But Texas State could be ahead of New York. A bill introduced in the Texas House of Representatives would allow research into the benefits of using certain psychedelics to treat mental health and wellness issues. It was approved by the House health committee with an amendment that limited the scope of the study. Democratic State Representative Alex Dominguez supports the bill. The bill is titled Research to Evaluate the Use of Alternative Therapies for the Treatment of Certain Mental and Other Medical Conditions Act.

Invoice 1802

House Bill 1802 requires the Texas Medical Board to conduct research on the effects of MDMA, psilocybin and ketamine in the treatment of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic pain and migraine. The effectiveness of these alternative therapies is also compared to treatments already used for the same diseases. Instead, the list of problems is limited exclusively to post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly among military veterans. At the press conference, Congressman Dominguez told the audience: We disgrace [veterans] by forcing them to leave the country again for treatment. Oregon does not yet have a legal psilocybin program, so people currently have to travel outside the United States to get treated with the drug. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, supported the bill. He travels the state claiming Dominguez’s bill has bipartisan support. To me, this may be one of the most encouraging bills for members of the Legislature to consider this session, Perry told the Texas Tribune. Studies show that psychedelics cause a kind of reset of the brain. After an article was published about this team’s meeting, Dominguez was quoted in the article and said on Twitter: When we come together and focus on what unites us instead of what divides us, we can truly represent Texans and be an example to the entire country. Perry says he remains opposed to recreational drug use. Yet he says he has seen compelling evidence that psychedelic drugs can and have brought relief to former military personnel. All this, done in a proper clinical setting, will save many lives, the former presidential candidate said. I’m sure of it. I’ve seen enough of these young men. If the bill passes, the study must be completed by January 1. December 2022 and a report will be prepared.

Potential impact of the bill

The bill is more than a one-off study. This opens the door for new research to help lawmakers decide on new laws that could decriminalize or even encourage use. The FDA has now approved Prozac and Zoloft for the treatment of PTSD, but veterans often complain that they don’t feel like themselves and are still subject to mood swings. In 2018, one in eight Americans is taking antidepressants; however, one-third of these patients already have or are developing resistance to these medications. As a result, many people resort to self-medication, which can lead to many problems. The use of psychedelics to help people with mental illness has been gaining popularity in the Lonestar State for some time. A company called Field Trip Health even has a new therapy center in Houston. The company was founded in Toronto, as they say, to treat people, not patients. Field Trip takes a personalized approach to mental health, the company said. We combine forensic psychedelic therapy, mindfulness and self-care with a series of sessions with trained therapists. All in an environment that provides a sense of safety and comfort and promotes healing. Right now, in the Houston office, the legal psychedelic is ketamine. This anesthetic used to be used mostly on the battlefield; today it is mostly used on people who have left the battlefield. That is, it helps treat depression and suicidal thoughts. Before drugs were outlawed, psychedelic therapies were scrutinized. The National Institutes of Health funded more than 130 studies on the benefits of active chemicals and concluded that the effects were significant and long-lasting, even when low doses were used. Side effects were also low and mostly fleeting – especially compared to antidepressants. While psychedelics only caused side effects such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, mild anxiety or perceiving illusions, antidepressants can cause severe changes in blood pressure and heart rate, withdrawal symptoms and even induce suicidal thoughts. Similar research is being conducted in other countries; in the UK, the use of DMT is being considered as a possible treatment in combination with psychotherapy.

Texas Drug Laws

Meanwhile, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Texas. There was an attempt to decriminalize this product, but it failed. However, the House of Representatives recently passed a bill to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana concentrates. Currently, someone caught possessing two ounces of marijuana in Texas can be charged with a class B misdemeanor, with up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Under Bill 441, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would be a Class C misdemeanor with no jail time. It’s just a last-ditch effort. Of the 10 other bills introduced in the Texas Legislature to criminalize recreational cannabis use and possession, only one has made it out of committee: Bill 99. This would mean that possession of marijuana would only be subject to a fine and a driver’s license would not be suspended upon a conviction of possession. A Republican congressman from Iowa is also considering removing psilocybin from the criminal code.

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