This is an exciting time for mental health professionals (and for health law attorneys) in New York! Following on the heels of Colorado and Oregon, New York currently has a number of bills pending which would legalize psychedelics for therapeutic use and legalize the personal use of certain natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens. These bills, if signed into law, will allow New York mental health professionals to open new doors for their patients through the therapeutic use of plant medicine, including DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocyn.
Bill A7928, introduced on June 1, 2021, is currently sponsored by Assemblymember Rosenthal. This bill would establish the psychedelic research institute and the psychedelic substances therapeutic research program to study and provide recommendations regarding the use of psychedelic substances in the treatment of addictive disorders, depression, PTSD and end-of-life anxiety. This bill is currently in the Assembly Health Committee.
Bill A8569, introduced on December 13, 2021, is currently sponsored by Assemblymember Burke and co-sponsored by Donna Lupardo. It would create a system for the medical use of psilocybin, including registration of psilocybin service centers and research programs, research license requirements and psilocybin service facilitator license requirements. It also creates a “Psilocybin Services Grant Program” for veterans and first responders to receive monetary assistance for medical psilocybin services. The bill is currently in the Assembly Health Committee.
On January 31, 2023, Senator Nathalia Fernandez introduced Bill S3520, which would amend the New York Public Health Law and New York Finance Law to enable licensed facilitators to administer psilocybin-assisted therapy to qualified patients. The Assembly version of this bill was introduced on February 3, 2023 by Assemblymembers Burke, Lupardo, Kelles, Darling, Simon, Forrest, Zabrowski, Reyes, Gonzalez-Rojas and Rivera.
A revised version of Bill A6065A was re-introduced by Assemblymember Rosenthal on October 3, 2022, which would amend the New York Penal Law to legalize adult possession and use of certain natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens and grant certain protections for individuals lawfully using such hallucinogens, including DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocyn. The bill would also remove these hallucinogens from the list of Schedule I controlled substances. It would allow the possession, use, cultivation, production, creation, analysis, gifting, exchange or sharing by and between people 21-years of age or older of these natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens. This bill is currently in the Assembly Health Committee. Assemblymember Rosenthal also introduced bill A10299 on April 15, 2020, which would decriminalize psilocybin. This bill is also in the Assembly Health Committee.
Bill A00114 was introduced on January 4, 2023 by Assemblymember Rosenthal and is co-sponsored by Simon, Reyes, Bores, Seawright, Epstein, Forrest and Walker. It would legalize adult possession and use of certain natural plant or fungus-based hallucinogens, grant certain protections for individuals lawfully using such hallucinogens and remove such hallucinogens from the list of Schedule I controlled substances, including DMT, ibogaine, mescaline, psilocybin and psilocyn. This bill, among other things, prevents a holder of a professional or occupational license from being subject to professional discipline for personal use of natural or fungus-based hallucinogens and also states that use of such hallucinogens permitted by this bill will not constitute child abuse or neglect without a finding of actual threat to the health or welfare of a child. This bill is also currently in the Assembly Health Committee.
Bills S1284, introduced on January 8, 2021, and A7109, introduced on April 22, 2021, would eliminate criminal and civil penalties for possession of controlled substance, establish the drug decriminalization task force to develop recommendations for reforming New York state laws, regulations and practices so that they align with the goal of treating substance use disorder as a disease rather than as criminal behavior. This bill is currently in the Assembly and Senate Codes Committees.
If and when any one or more of these bills are signed into law, Daniels, Porco and Lusardi, LLP is excited to help mental health professionals navigate through these new laws and to counsel them with respect to developing legally compliant treatment programs. We will be here to advise you on all legal aspects of these new and exciting plant medicine laws.
Shea Fitzekam, Esq. is a New York licensed attorney with over 11 years of experience advising health care providers on all aspects of health law, including but not limited to federal and state compliance, corporate reorganization, buy-sell agreements, joint ventures, shareholder and operating agreements, third party payor compliance and overpayment defense. Please contact Shea if you have any questions about these pending bills or any other legal aspects of the future of plant medicine in New York.