New Mexico Governor Signs Psilocybin Memorial Legislation

Psilocybin proposal Senate Memorial 12 (SM-12) was recently signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

SM-12 is referred to as memorial legislation, which is more of an official request for research, unlike other bill proposals. “A memorial requesting the Department of Health to study the efficacy of using psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic treatments and the establishment of a program for psilocybin mushrooms to be used for therapeutic medical treatments,” the legislation states.

The memorial legislation explains that mental illness in New Mexico is at an all-time high, and a majority of suicides in the state are committed by veterans or first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Drug overdoses are also high in the Land of Enchantment, and the state’s rate of alcohol-related deaths is “highest in the nation.”

The reasoning behind pushing SM-12 is because many reputable universities and institutions have found efficacy in the medical properties of psilocybin. The proposal concludes by requesting that the Department of Health and University of New Mexico Health Sciences work together “to study and evaluate the efficacy of psilocybin-based therapeutic treatments and the establishment of a program allowing the use of psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic medical treatments and the necessary statutory or regulatory framework for developing such a program.”

SM-12 was sent to the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee on Feb. 10 and unanimously with a 7-0 vote to pass. “This can help people very potentially, and so what we’re trying to do in a bipartisan way is ask the Department of Health to recognize that we want them to get going to start looking at this,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, one of the bill’s sponsors.

The New Mexico Senate unanimously approved SM-12 on Feb. 14 in a 37-0 vote. “It turns out that medical mushrooms, psilocybin, has proven to be medically efficacious for the use of major behavioral health issues,” Steinborn said on the day of the Senate vote. “It can help alleviate and be an alternative to major anti-depressant drugs and probably other drugs that have serious side effects and can bring real relief to New Mexicans.”

Senate Minority Whip Craig W. Brandt, who is also a sponsor of SM-12, explained that medicinal psilocybin is “not a treatment that you take on your own once a day or once a week or even once a month, but it can be a treatment that’s done about once every six months to every year, as needed.”

“And sometimes one treatment is all that’s needed to actually cure someone of a traumatic brain injury, or of PTSD,” Brandt continued. “And so this is actually a really exciting, cutting-edge technology… God seems to have provided a cure, and we just need to figure out how to use that cure.”

Previously, the last bill in New Mexico to attempt to pass psilocybin therapy was last spring with House Bill 393. It did not receive any further action after March 2023.

A steady stream of studies have been published on the topic of psilocybin in recent years. One in particular showed that psilocybin consumption not only contributed to enhanced sexual pleasure and satisfaction in participants, but that those effects lasted up to six months after consumption occurred. “It’s important to stress our work does not focus on what happens to sexual functioning while people are on psychedelics, and we are not talking about perceived ‘sexual performance,’ but it does indicate there may be a lasting positive impact on sexual functioning after their psychedelic experience, which could potentially have impacts on psychological wellbeing,” said lead author and Ph.D. student Tommaso Barba.

Psilocybin legislation in other states has continued to rise. In late January, companion bills Senate Bill 3019 and House Bill 2630 were proposed in Hawaii, which would establish therapeutic psilocybin regulations and also enact protections for patients. In Arizona, Senate Bill 1570 would legalize psilocybin treatment centers and establish regulations and training requirements for therapy center medical directors. Just last week, Senate Bill 3695 (also called the Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens (CURE) Act was proposed in Illinois, which if passed would also legalize supervised use of psilocybin in a therapeutic setting.

Psilocybin and other substances are recognized for their medicinal value outside of the U.S. as well. Mexican Senator Alejandra Lagunes spoke out in October 2023 about suffering from depression and anxiety in her 20s. Her mindset changed after an Ayahuasca trip. “My perspective of my own life changed. My mind changed. All my negative thinking patterns shifted,” Lagunes told Vice in an interview. “It was as though there was a different light illuminating my mind and I saw things differently. I stopped taking medication. It changed my life.

Now Lagunes is proposing that psilocybin mushrooms, which are native to Mexico and have long been utilized by indigenous people, could be a huge benefit to people who are suffering from mental illness. “There isn’t a single meeting in the Senate that doesn’t mention the mental health crisis and the lack of medications to treat it,” Lagunes said. She explained her intention to propose psilocybin legalization and have it removed from Mexico’s list of scheduled drugs (currently on the same level as heroin, cocaine, and MDMA).

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