A Vermont lawmaker wants to relax the laws surrounding psychedelics.
In a bill introduced Wednesday, state Rep. Brian Cina took the first step toward decriminalizing psilocybin, peyote, ayahuasca and kratom, with the legislation alluding to them as “certain drugs commonly used for medicinal, spiritual, religious, or entheogenic purposes.”
The bill, which would take effect on July 1 if it were to pass and be signed into law, would remove those four substances from the state’s list of “regulated drugs,” a classification that includes narcotics, ecstasy, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Cina, a member of the Progressive Party who was first elected to the Vermont legislature in 2016, promoted the bill in a tweet on Wednesday, arguing that plant-based substances like the aforementioned four should be free of regulation.
“Whether plant medicines are used for treating pain or whether they’re used for seeking pleasure, that is a health care choice, and it’s a waste of society’s resources to criminalize healing practices that go back to the very roots of our humanity,” Cina said on Twitter.
The bill’s ultimate prospects in the general assembly remain unclear, though Cina has three other co-sponsors for the legislation: state Reps. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (Progressive), Annmarie Christensen (Democrat) and Zachariah Ralph (Progressive). Democrats have strong majorities in both chambers of the assembly, the Senate and the House, with a smattering of Cina’s fellow Progressive Party members in each.
But even if it were to pass the general assembly, the bill’s ultimate fate will rest with Vermont’s Republican governor, Phil Scott.
In 2018, Scott signed a bill that legalized recreational marijuana use. But Vermont’s law does not go as far as other states like Colorado, California and, most recently, Illinois, that have also legalized pot. Most notably, Vermont does not allow the retail sale of cannabis products as those other states do.
Scott had long expressed misgivings with a retail marijuana system, though he has recently signaled that he could be amenable. Citing concerns about individuals getting high and driving, Scott said last April that he wouldn’t sign a measure legalizing and regulating marijuana sales unless legislators also included a provision to allow for saliva testing of drivers.