Jefferson City — St. Charles Representative Tony Lovasco proposed an out-of-the-box solution to address the mental health crisis in Missouri.
House Bill 869 would legalize the use of the psychedelic compound psilocybin. Which occurs naturally in more than 200 species of fungi and is the "magic" in magic mushrooms.
“I think psychedelics and specifically psilocybin has shown to provide a lot of benefits for folks with very specific mental conditions,” said Lovasco.
Studies from within the past year done by researchers with Johns Hopkins Medicine support Lovasco's assessment. Particularly when it comes to treating depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
War veteran Carl Shepard had first-hand experience with psilocybin after coming home from Iraq.
“Statistically speaking the likelihood of me ending up dead or in prison was high at one point like in 2005- 2011,” said Shepard.
Shepard served in the National Guard for 8 years as a route clearance soldier and said when he came home he was still addicted to the adrenaline rush of being in combat.
“I mean it was imminent. I’m talking about a situation where you know my mental health was in you know it was in a crisis for a couple of years,” said Shepard.
Shepard began looking for holistic treatment and now attends bi-monthly talk therapy to help with his mental health.
“We’re already in a situation where we're either highly depressed or highly anxious. So, the added paranoia of thinking I’m doing something illegal this is not something my doctor recommends will kill it for all most everybody,” said Shepard.
Representative Lovasco and other advocates proposed lawmakers take a serious look into the research of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
“You have to look at this as a medical treatment. Some of the media coverage has focused on the fact that psilocybin is derived from mushrooms. People have the idea that this is going to your backyard and picking up a mushroom and eating it and going to have a party and that’s not what this is”
Lovasco said the bill is for pharmaceutical purposes only and aims to provide a defense against criminal prosecution for patients who receive psilocybin treatments and the doctors who provide them.