Psychedelics Bill Has Its Roots in Medical Cannabis Approval

When voters took to the polls in 2019 to approve medical cannabis, many of us speculated that passing Proposition 2 would ultimately lead to even more alternative medicines in Utah. We are seeing such speculation come to fruition. For example, the state legislature just passed a psychedelics bill that is expected to be signed by the governor.

Under the legislation, limited numbers of medical providers will be able to administer psilocybin and MDMA as alternative treatments for certain medical conditions. The bill does not open the door to psychedelics as completely as current medical cannabis regulation, but it does allow approved hospitals to begin researching psilocybin and MDMA as alternatives.

From our point of view, the legislation has its roots in medical cannabis. We are convinced the bill would never have passed had Utah still been in that dwindling group of prohibitionist states.

Highly Conservative Utah

Long before Beehive Farmacy was even a dream, people were speculating on the possibility of getting medical cannabis approved in the Beehive State. As you know, Utah is highly conservative on most issues. Convincing enough lawmakers to voluntarily accept medical cannabis was a monumental task unlikely to succeed.

Knowing that, medical cannabis proponents turned directly to voters. They managed to get enough signatures on the appropriate proposition, forcing a highly conservative Utah to put it on the ballot in 2019. You know the rest of the story.

In addition to legalizing medical cannabis in Utah, passage of the proposition also accomplished something else critically important to our community: it forced previously opposed lawmakers to take a second look at cannabis as a medicine. A lot of minds were changed. In fact, the majority of our state lawmakers are now on board with medical cannabis.

One Impacts the Other

Changed minds were not lost on those who promote alternatives to traditional medical therapies. Enter psilocybin and MDMA. Both substances are similar to marijuana in the sense that they are Schedule I controlled substances. And yet there is an emerging body of science suggesting psilocybin and MDMA can be used medicinally. Here is the most intriguing aspect of it all: legalizing medical cannabis has had an impact on how lawmakers view psychedelics.

Traditionally, psychedelics have not had a positive reputation in mainstream American culture. Dating back to the days of Timothy Leary and the counterculture, psychedelics have been viewed as purely recreational drugs with no medical value. But we used to think the same thing about cannabis.

The fact that we are now open to cannabis as a medicine suggest that we may have also been wrong about psychedelics. Maybe we have been. Maybe not. There is no way to know for sure without actually researching psychedelic efficacy. Utah has taken a step in that direction with this new legislation.

Medical Cannabis Marches On

Regardless of the future of psilocybin and MDMA in Utah, there is no arguing the fact that our medical cannabis program has been an enormous success. We now have more than 80,000 active cardholders in the state. Tens of thousands of them are managing chronic pain with medical cannabis – which is far better than some of the prescription alternatives.

It could turn out that psychedelics really do not have any valid medical benefit. But the jury has already returned a verdict on medical cannabis. It works for millions of people worldwide. We are fortunate that Utah voters changed their minds in 2019, thereby pushing lawmakers to change theirs as well. Passage of the psychedelic bill during this past legislative session is a direct result of what happened in 2019.