● SEPTEMBER 28, 2023
As cannabis legalization and further medical implementation of the cannabis plant becomes more legal and accessible, the discussion surrounding the possible medicinal benefits behind other medicinal plants has also expanded and become more commonplace. In particular, the medicinal benefits behind psilocybin mushrooms are being discussed very frequently throughout all branches of government throughout the country. Way back in 2019, the city of Denver voted to decriminalize the mushrooms by an extremely slim margin. A month later, Oakland City Council decriminalized both psilocybin and peyote.
Since then, several local municipalities California to Massachusetts have either voted to decriminalize psilocybin or utilized their City Councils to pass decriminalization. From Cambridge to Santa Cruz and many cities in between, these measures are being signed into law in unexpected corners of America. Clearly, psilocybin may be the next frontier of widespread drug reform in America. Entire states like Oregon have even taken it a massive step forward and decriminalized not only psilocybin but other natural hallucinogens as well.
Possible psilocybin reforms have even reached their way to the United States Legislature, where a new congressional bill has been filed to protect the many local measures surrounding psilocybin passed against federal intervention. One of the Congressional representatives sponsoring this potentially groundbreaking bill is one of legal cannabis’ most ardent champions and chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Given that his state decriminalized all hard drugs via the 2020 election’s Ballot Measure 110, Blumenauer likely sees this new bill as the next step in full-scale drug reform.
Because every Congressional bill just absolutely must have a catchy name, the newest bill sponsored by Blumenauer and Rep. Robert Garcia of California is entitled The Validating Independence for State Initiatives on Organic Natural Substances (VISIONS) Act. Within the language of the legislation, the laws and protections promised read very similar to the promises of the Obama-era Cole Memorandum. This August 2013 memorandum was issued by United States Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and stated that due to “limited resources”, the Justice Department wouldn’t unfairly enforce federal cannabis prohibition in states that have voted to legalize cannabis either medically or recreationally unless obvious federal criminal activity was occurring such as distribution to minors or organized crime.
Although the briefly serving Attorney General and Keebler Elf Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum in 2018 during his hilarious flop of a crusade against the states with legalized cannabis,the DOJ didn’t go after a single cannabis business that was operating compliantly and legally. This critical failure on Sessions’ part was just the latest in the many failures in Sessions’ war against cannabis that ended with his sudden firing following several months of openly bickering with President Trump.
“We reviewed DOJ press releases on approximately 50 federal prosecutions involving marijuana during the period 2018-2020 and did not find one that involved purely state compliant activity.” a review by the Global Cannabis Compliance Blog stated. “In fact, almost all involved Cole Memorandum priorities – most commonly, organized crime, the use of firearms, and trafficking of other illegal drugs.”
Likely inspired by the Cole Memorandum, The 2023 VISIONS Act reads very similar in terms of legislation and hopefully won’t be rescinded by a power-drunk Attorney General who sounds reminiscent of Foghorn Leghorn.
The Validating Independence for State Initiatives on Organic Natural Substances (VISIONS) Act calls for no federal funds to be used to “prevent any state or unit of local government from implementing such state’s or unit of local government’s own laws that authorize the use, distribution, sale, possession, research, or cultivation of psilocybin.”
If this bill is enacted, the protections that the bill ensures would be a tremendous victory towards future psilocybin medical legalization and utilization. Without having the weight and worry of federal intervention, medical research and reforms can be completed at a much greater speed. And even more, The VISIONS Act would guarantee those protections to both statewide legislatures and local municipalities simultaneously while also allowing for a possible legal psilocybin market in the future.
“Current federal law lags behind the growing body of evidence that suggests that the psychedelic treatment that psilocybin offers can provide relief for those suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Here in the U.S. we have countless military and law enforcement veterans who have seen their lives improve thanks to these groundbreaking treatments.” said Congressman Garcia in a statement on his website. “The potential benefits of psilocybin have been overlooked for years and my aim is to protect the areas and states that want to delve into the real progress this treatment can offer for people in their communities.”