Sen. Ventura holds press conference on psilocybin bill

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura, along with several mental health advocates and professionals, held a press conference Thursday to outline their support of legalizing psilocybin, commonly known as “magic mushrooms.”

"We're dedicated to eliminating obstacles to healing in Illinois," said Ventura (D-Joliet). "As additional options emerge for the public, my aspiration is for plant medicines to shed their stigma and be recognized for their safe and beneficial qualities.”

Senate Bill 3695, known as the CURE ACT (Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens Act), aims to tackle treatment-resistant conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions. Additionally, it facilitates research into the safety and efficacy of psilocybin through medical, psychological, and scientific studies.

“Decades of scientific research and centuries of cultural practice present a compelling case for the therapeutic and spiritual potential of psychedelics,” said Dr. Geoff Bathje. “We must continue to wind down our century-long War on Drugs if we are to have an accurate understanding of risks, benefits, and harm reduction strategies.”

An estimated 6.8% of Americans will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Preliminary research of psychedelic programs by King’s College, London, suggests that over 80% of veterans experience significant improvement after participating in just one psychedelic program.

"Law Enforcement Action Partnership recognizes this bill as nothing short of life saving. Providing a proven means for people to work through their traumas and live happier, healthier, and more productive lives,” said Dave Franco, retired police officer and speaker for the Law Enforcement Action Partnership. “The benefits for mental and behavioral health can also have a sizable impact on community and public safety."

Under Senate Bill 3695, psychedelic therapies would be administered in controlled, supervised settings to ensure safety and treatment effectiveness. Retail sales of these medicines are would be prohibited and could only be used under supervision at designated service centers.

“Psilocybin and other psychedelic medicines have demonstrated the potential to allow people to deeply process trauma and grief and heal from anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders,” said Katie Sullivan, MSN, APRN, FNP-C and Co-Founder of Modern Compassionate Care. “The IL Cure Act was crafted with the input of healthcare providers and advocates to provide a framework to deliver this breakthrough therapeutic option safely and ethically, while centering the needs of patients and our communities. My hope is that our legislators will consider this a vote of conscience and allow our citizens access to this life-changing treatment.”

“Psilocybin has the potential to change mental health treatment in the same way antibiotics changed medicine,” said Bruce Sewick, retired CEO of Leyden Family Service & Mental Health Center.

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"The CURE act would remove the fear of criminalization for people who are simply trying to ease their own suffering and provide safeguards for accessing these powerful medicines,” said Jean Lacy, Founder & Executive Director of the Illinois Psychedelic Society. “Illinois has an opportunity to once again be a leader in health equity and we ask that lawmakers not get in the way of safe, regulated access to therapeutic psychedelic experiences for those who need it most."

The bill would also establish the Illinois Psilocybin Advisory Board under the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation which would create a training program, ethical standards, and licensing requirements.

Senate Bill 3695 has been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.