'Shrooms go mainstream with Washington state medical trial
Two states have legalized medical uses of psychedelic mushrooms, but Washington state lawmakers want more information on the benefits before following suit.
Driving the news: In early May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5263, which creates a task force to explore the issue and authorizes the University of Washington School of Medicine to study the potential therapeutic value of the psychedelic compound found in mushrooms.
- The bill allocates $1.4 million for the pilot program and efficacy study, which will include 30 to 40 military veterans and first responders with documented post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders.
Why it matters: Research on the potential efficacy of psychedelics in treating mental health disorders ceased when psilocybin, along with LSD and mescaline, were designated Schedule 1 drugs in 1970 by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency as part of the war on drugs.
- But in the last few years, Oregon and Colorado passed bills that both decriminalize psilocybin and also legalize its supervised use, opening a path to what some researchers believe is a promising field of treatment for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Additionally, some cities, including Seattle, decriminalized growing and sharing psilocybin mushrooms.
Zoom out: As of February, there were more than 130 clinical trials in research facilities across the world using psilocybin that were underway or scheduled.
Zoom in: The Seattle-based trial will begin in January 2025 and run for one year.
- Nathan Sackett, who co-directs the Center for Novel Therapeutics in Addiction Psychiatry and will oversee the UW trial, said participants in the trial will likely be recruited through community groups that already work with prospective participants.
What they're saying: Depression, end-of-life anxiety and substance use disorders are challenging to address and frustrating to treat due to the limited options available today, said Sackett.
- "We are desperate for new solutions," Sackett told Axios.
What's next: The results of the trial will likely determine whether Washingtonians with dual diagnosis for substance use and mental health disorders are able to access therapeutic psychedelics in the future, state Sen. Jesse Salomon, a Democrat from Shoreline who sponsored the legislation, told Axios.
- He said the current bill had broad bipartisan backing with 127 out of 147 legislators voting in favor, which "bodes very well for future legislation."
- If the mushrooms' effectiveness can be shown, "that could be huge."
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