People hoping Washington would closely follow Oregon into the regulated use of psilocybin overseen by licensed practitioners faced a delay when a committee of the Washington legislature converted Senate Bill 5263 from legalizing psilocybin services to calling for more research.

On March 7, 2023, the state senate passed the substitute version of SB 5263 with 41 votes for passage and 7 opposed. It is now under consideration in the state house where it will have its first public hearing in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness on March 24 at 8:00 a.m.

The substitute version of SB 5263 recognizes the growing body of evidence that psilocybin is a potent tool to promote public health. It also expressly opens the door for non-clinical use. The legislative intent is, first, to develop a plan to make psilocybin services available to all persons 21 and older “for whom psilocybin may be appropriate or as part of their indigenous religious or cultural practice.”

The bill also aims to contain psilocybin use within a well-studied regulatory framework. To those ends, the bill would create three new bodies to consider options and make related recommendations in a final report due to the governor and legislature by the end of 2023.

First, the bill would create a psilocybin advisory board within the Washington State Department of Health to provide recommendations to the Department of Health, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and Washington State Department of Agriculture. The advisory board would include supposed experts from certain concerned populations, including health providers, public health experts, Native Tribes, substance-use specialists, scientific researchers, and indigenous or religious users.

Second, the bill proposes an interagency work group to advise the advisory board about “clean and pesticide free psilocybin products”; indigenous practices, clinical trials, and medical evidence; and a “social opportunity program” to remedy targeted enforcement of drug-related laws on overburdened communities.

Finally, the bill provides for a psilocybin task force to presumably synthesize information from the board and work group into a final report to the governor and legislature by December 1, 2023. The task force will include regulators; people with direct knowledge of psilocybin use in clinical and indigenous contexts; advocates experienced working with disability, LGBTQ+, and psychedelic medicine rights; and people with lived experience using psilocybin.

Under the substitute bill, task force meetings must be open to public participation. If passed, the bill would expressly protect medical professionals from adverse licensing action for recommending psilocybin treatments.

This article summarizes aspects of the law and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice for your situation, you should contact a lawyer.

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