Amanita mushrooms grow in the forest. Credit: Serrgey75 via Shutterstock

Buried in the budget Gov. Ned Lamont signed this week is a provision that would create a pilot program to allow Connecticut to be the first-in-the-nation to study the impact of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and MDMA on patients with depression and PTSD.

The budget now creates a pilot program within the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and establishes an advisory panel to help craft state regulations in advance of possible federal action expanding access to the treatments.

“The complexities of psychedelic-assisted therapy require that we construct a regulatory framework and collect real-world evidence treating more complex patients to inform stakeholders of the nuances to delivering effective care, and these policies accomplish that” Brett Waters, co-founder and executive director of Reason for Hope, said. “We thank the Governor and legislature for their compassionate and forward thinking leadership and look forward to supporting their efforts in the future.”

The budget doesn’t include the $3 million proponents wanted for the program, but it allows the pilot to operate “within available appropriations.”

A number of veterans groups testified during the public hearing in favor of the legislaiton.

“For far too long, the men and women of the armed services have had to carry the mental and emotional burdens of combat without access to effective treatments. Psychedelic therapy represents a major breakthrough for Veterans and civilians alike to heal and lead productive lives,” Martin Steele, a retired three-star Lieutenant General in the United States Marine Corps, said.

Jesse MacLachlan, a former state representative who is now the director of state policy and advocacy at Reason for Hope, a psychedelic-assisted therapy advocacy organization, said at the moment there are few therapists trained in the use of psychedelics.

“By passing this legislation, the state of Connecticut has positioned itself to maximize the public benefits of psychedelic therapy as a national leader on the cutting edge of mental healthcare. This will result in lives saved and needless suffering avoided,” McLachlan said.

Research from Johns Hopkins University has shown that psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieved major depressive disorder symptoms in adults for up to a month. And, in a recent follow-up study of those participants, researchers report that the substantial antidepressant effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy — given with supportive psychotherapy — may last at least a year for some patients.