If New Jersey Legalizes Mushrooms, East Coast Could Follow, Says Weed Lawyer

Last month, news filtered out that New Jersey lawmakers had re-introduced a bill in the state Senate, which would legalize psilocybin, better known as “magic mushrooms.” The bill, named the “Psilocybin Behavioral Health Access and Services Act,” was pulled back last year for revisions. Though the measure is focused on treating mental health issues, the provisions would decriminalize recreational use for anyone 21 or order who possesses four grams or less of psilocybin. And, unlike marijuana, New Jersey residents “would be allowed grow their own mushrooms for personal use in their homes.”

If the bill does pass, New Jersey would become the third in the country after Oregon and Colorado to legalize psilocybin. It would also become the first state on the East Coast to do so. Could this milestone cause a ripple effect, with other East Coast taking a closer scrutiny?

Robert M. DiPisa, a New Jersey cannabis attorney at law firm Cole Schotz thinks so. He also speculates that for this bill to be re-introduced, there must be some support for the measure, paving the way for its eventual passage. The question is when? “My guess is they’re not going to put it up for vote until they have enough votes to pass it,” said DiPisa.

Recently, DiPisa talked to Forbes about the bill and what its possible passage may bode for the emerging psychedelics industry in the U.S.

This Q&A has been edited for conciseness and clarity.

Iris Dorbian: What are the differences and similarities between this bill and the legal cannabis program in New Jersey?

Rob DiPisa: There are a lot of similarities to the way the medical cannabis program was structured in the state. There have been some changes and improvements permitting personal use and at home consumption. That’s distinguished from the medicinal cannabis program. It does track aspects of the New Jersey cannabis program that proved problematic. For example, it does give broad discretion to municipalities and counties to [opt in or out]. That led to a lot of issues in the cannabis industry.

Dorbian: If mushrooms do become legal in New Jersey, its usage will become monitored and supervised by medical professionals?

DiPisa: For this bill, with the patient, you need to determine based on their ailments and other treatments they’ve been going through they need to try an alternative. They need to purchase and consume a product on-site and under the supervision of another individual which distinguishes it from the medicinal cannabis program.

Dorbian: Why do you think this is happening now?

DiPisa: Cannabis paved the way. Cannabis was start and go in a lot of these jurisdictions. Now we’re seeing more of a snowball process. People are realizing it’s not causing the chaos once that change occurred. There’s much more openness to it.

Dorbian: What will be the ramifications if this passes? What will this mean for the industry?

DiPisa: [With this bill], it really makes New Jersey one of the true pioneers. We certainly were not when it came to legalization of cannabis. What it does, first and foremost, is brings the issue to the East Coast. It’s like when New Jersey steps in, it normalizes the subject of psilocybin as a potential medical treatment for those suffering from behavioral issues. It may be if New Jersey passes this bill, the issue will gain more attention.

Dorbian: Do you think it has any chance of passing?

DiPisa: My guess is they’re not going to put it up for vote until they have enough votes to pass it.

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