The Connecticut House on Wednesday approved a measure to decriminalize small quantities of psilocybin mushrooms, CT Examiner reports. Under the proposal, penalties for possessing less than a half ounce of psilocybin mushrooms would be reduced from a misdemeanor with penalties of up to a year in jail to a simple infraction with a $150 penalty for the first offense.
The measure passed the chamber 86-64 with two Republicans backing the plan and 13 Democrats opposing it.
Under current state law, for second offenses courts can order substance abuse treatment for a and up to three years in prison for a third. The bill would change that to a $200 to $500 fine for a second offense, and a drug education program for the third.
During the debate, Rep. Steve Stafstrom (D) disclosed that he has a close friend that had self-medicated with psilocybin to deal with a painkiller addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts, and credited psilocybin with saving his friend’s life.
“What we’re saying is if those individuals are caught with this substance, rather than punishing them with a year in prison for self-medicating with this substance, we would instead give them a fine. And for a second offense, we would send them for some drug education counseling to hopefully get them the help and support they need.” — Stafstrom via CT Examiner
In 2021, Connecticut lawmakers tasked the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to study whether psilocybin could have a beneficial use in health care, particularly mental health care. The agency reported that there could be health benefits to the medical use of psilocybin “under the supervision of health professionals” for substance abuse, major depression, care for end-of-life anxiety, and depression treatment.
The measure still requires approval by the state Senate.
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