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Push of illegal drug made in effort to help treat post-traumatic stress

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions through an illegal drug is being sought by lawmakers in each chamber of the Wisconsin Legislature.

The proposal to fund a “medicinal psilocybin treatment fund and a pilot program” was sent to other lawmakers at the State Capitol on Thursday by state Sens. Jesse James, R-Altoona, and Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, and state Reps. Nate Gustafson, R-Neenah, and Clinton Anderson, D-Beloit.

Psilocybin mushrooms are commonly referred to as magic mushrooms, or just shrooms. Oregon and the District of Columbia have fully decriminalized use; five other states, including Michigan, have select municipalities where it is decriminalized.

In an email seeking co-sponsors, the lawmakers wrote, “Our veterans, who have selflessly served our country, often carry the heavy burden of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. It is our moral duty to provide them with the best possible care and support. This bill would fund a medicinal psilocybin treatment fund and create a pilot program to study the effect of psilocybin on veterans (excluding active ‘first responders’) over the age of 21 who suffer from PTSD.”

The lawmakers say other states are leaning toward legal psilocybin as well.

“Texas, Washington, and Maryland have passed bills requiring the creation of psilocybin medicinal pilot programs,” the email reads. “Washington, for example, required their health department, in partnership with University of Washington, to offer psilocybin therapy to veterans and first responders with PTSD. By co-sponsoring this bill, you are not only championing the well-being of our nation’s veterans but also contributing to the generation of essential data that will inform our future policies regarding psilocybin.”

Changing drug laws in Wisconsin has proven difficult over the years. There continues to be opposition at the Capitol to even a medical marijuana program.

The four lawmakers say other legislators have until the end of next week to sign-on to the plan. It will then be forwarded to the full Legislature for a hearing.

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