Lawmakers in Vermont have introduced several bills aimed at making sweeping changes to the state’s drug laws.
The website Psychedelic Spotlight has a primer on the four separate pieces of legislation that would “decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, expand harm reduction services, remove criminal penalties for using and selling psilocybin and decriminalize certain psychedelic plants and fungi.”
In the case of bill H.423, lawmakers are seeking a monumental reform. The measure, which has a companion bill in the Vermont state Senate, would decriminalize all drugs.
The text of the bill reads: “This bill proposes to change the penalties for possession of a personal use supply of drugs from a misdemeanor or low-level felony to a civil offense subject to a $50.00 penalty. A person cited for such an offense may avoid paying the penalty by agreeing to participate in a screening for substance use disorder treatment and related services. The bill would also establish the Drug Use Standards Advisory Board for the purpose of determining the benchmark personal use dosage and the benchmark personal use supply for regulated drugs with a goal of preventing and reducing the criminalization of personal drug use. Individuals previously arrested for or convicted of possession of a regulated drug in an amount under the benchmark personal use supply amount would also be eligible for immediate sealing of criminal history records. Additionally, to prevent overdose, the bill would also authorize the operation of drug-checking programs to allow individuals to obtain analysis of a regulated drug previously obtained by an individual for purposes of determining the chemical composition of the substance and identifying chemical contaminants. The bill would establish a pilot project to support the development and operation of such programs.”
According to Psychedelic Spotlight, “nearly a third” of Vermont’s House of Representatives has sponsored that bill.
Two other bills, one filed in the House and the other in the Senate, specifically address psilocybin mushrooms.
The bill H.439, sponsored by a handful of House members, would “decriminalize some chemical compounds found in plants and fungi that are commonly used for medicinal, spiritual, religious, or entheogenic purposes.”
S.114, introduced in the state Senate, would go even further. That measure would remove “criminal penalties for possessing, dispensing, or selling psilocybin,” while also establishing the Psychedelic Therapy Advisory Working Group.
The group would “examine the use of psychedelics to improve physical and mental health and to make recommendations regarding the establishment of a State program similar to Connecticut, Colorado, or Oregon to permit health care providers to administer psychedelics in a therapeutic setting,” according to the text of the legislation.
As that bill referenced, other states have already changed their laws around psychedelic substances such as mushrooms––and more are sure to follow.
Earlier this month, lawmakers in Nevada introduced a bill that would open the door for research into psilocybin and MDMA.
Specifically, that measure would set up “procedures for a research facility to obtain the approval of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct certain studies involving certain controlled substances; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving psilocybin and MDMA if conducted in connection with and within the scope of an approved study; decriminalizing certain conduct by persons who are 18 years of age or older involving 4 ounces or less of fungi that produces psilocybin or psilocin; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”
But advocates in Vermont may want to temper their expectations. As Psychedelic Spotlight noted, the state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, “famously vetoed two more restrained drug policy reforms last year, so who knows what he’ll do with this month’s proposals.”