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Connecticut Governor Signs Psychedelics Therapy Bill

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

May 13, 2022

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation this week that will allow a limited class of patients to use psychedelic

including psilocybin and MDMA in a supervised, therapeutic setting. Lamont signed the legislation as part of a budget implementation bill, although he did not comment on the psychedelic therapy provisions of the measure.

“This bipartisan budget gives taxpayers their largest tax cut in history, while paying down approximately $3.3 billion in unfunded liabilities, making groundbreaking investments in childcare, crime prevention, environmental protection, and caring for our most vulnerable residents,”

in a statement about the budget bill on Monday. “We are transforming Connecticut, making it a place where people and businesses want to grow and set down roots.”

The psychedelic therapy provisions are largely identical to a standalone bill that was approved by lawmakers in committee earlier this year, although the legislation is limited to patients who are military veterans, retired law enforcement officers or health care workers. The

also included patients from historically underserved communities who have serious mental or behavioral health disorders but lack access to effective treatment. The approved version also replaces a provision appropriating $3 million to implement the measure with language that provides funding “within available appropriations.”

The legislation creates a pilot program with the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide qualified patients with the funding necessary to receive MDMA-assisted or psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The program would be implemented as part of an expanded access program approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bill would not legalize psychedelics for general medical or recreational use.

Lamont’s approval of the legislation was praised by Martin R. Steele, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general and co-founder of Reason for Hope, a psychedelic-assisted advocacy organization.

“For far too long, the men and women of the armed services have had to carry the mental and emotional burdens of combat without access to effective treatments. Psychedelic therapy represents a major breakthrough for veterans and civilians alike to heal and lead productive lives,” Steele said in a statement. “We have a duty, responsibility, and urgency, to help all those suffering from trauma. I commend the governor’s office and leaders in the legislature for the life-saving action they have taken through this landmark legislation.”

Psychedelics Show Promise As Mental Health Therapies

Clinical research and other studies into psychedelics including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine have shown that the drugs have potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for serious mental health conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety.

published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was an effective and quick-acting treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. A separate published in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment produced substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.

And last month, a team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Imperial College in London

that reveals a possible mechanism by which psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin can treat depression and other psychiatric conditions characterized by patterns of fixed thinking.

“The effect seen with psilocybin is consistent across two studies, related to people getting better, and was not seen with a conventional antidepressant,” Robin Carhart-Harris, the lead author of a report on the research,

from UCSF. “In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we’re seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, which suggests a ‘carry over’ of the acute drug action.”

David Nutt, head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, noted that psilocybin could provide new treatments for patients who have not made progress with commonly used pharmaceuticals.

“For the first time we find that psilocybin works differently from conventional antidepressants – making the brain more flexible and fluid, and less entrenched in the negative thinking patterns associated with depression,” said Nutt. “This supports our initial predictions and confirms psilocybin could be a real alternative approach to depression treatments.”

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

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