Psychedelic Drug Legislative Reform and Legalization in the US

Joshua S. Siegel, James E. Daily, Demetrius A. Perry, Ginger E. Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Importance: Psychedelic drugs are becoming accessible in the US through a patchwork of state legislative reforms. This shift necessitates consensus on treatment models, education and guidance for health care professionals, and planning for implementation and regulation. Objective: To assess trends in psychedelics legislative reform and legalization in the US to provide guidance to health care professionals, policy makers, and the public. Evidence Review: Data were compiled from legislative databases (BillTrack50, LexisNexis, and Ballotpedia) from January 1, 2019, to September 28, 2022. Legislation was identified by searching for terms related to psychedelics (eg, psilocybin, MDMA, peyote, mescaline, ibogaine, LSD, ayahuasca, and DMT). Bills were coded by an attorney along 2 axes: which psychedelic drugs would be affected and in what ways (eg, decriminalization, funding for medical research, and right to try). To explore drivers and rates of legislative reform, data were compared with other state indices including 2020 presidential voting margins and marijuana legislative reform. Findings: Twenty-five states have considered 74 bills (69 legislative initiatives, 5 ballot measures); 10 bills were enacted, and 32 were still active. The number of psychedelic reform bills introduced during each calendar year increased steadily from 5 in 2019 to 6 in 2020, 27 in 2021, and 36 in 2022. Nearly all bills specified psilocybin (67 [90%]), and many also included MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine; 27 [36%]). While bills varied in their framework, most (43 [58%]) proposed decriminalization, of which few delineated medical oversight (10 of 43 [23%]) or training and/or licensure requirements (15 of 43 [35%]). In general, bills contained less regulatory guidance than the enacted Oregon Measure 109. While early legislative efforts occurred in liberal states, the margin between liberal and conservative states has decreased over time (although the difference was not significant), suggesting that psychedelic drug reform is becoming a bipartisan issue. In addition, an analytic model based on marijuana legalization projected that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2034 to 2037. Conclusions and Relevance: Legislative reform for psychedelic drugs has been proceeding in a rapid, patchwork fashion in the US. Further consideration should be given to key health care issues such as establishing (1) standards for drugs procured outside the medical establishment, (2) licensure criteria for prescribers and therapists, (3) clinical and billing infrastructure, (4) potential contraindications, and (5) use in special populations like youths, older adults, and pregnant individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-83
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2023


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