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HOLLY REHDER LEGISLATIVE COLUMN
Winter weather added to the obstacles that are currently facing potential progress for legislation during the 2024 legislative session. The Missouri Senate closed and canceled several hearings and action on the floor Jan. 22, due to the ice that covered many roadways across the state.
All 34 senators also attended the governor’s State of the State Jan. 24 as he laid out his legislative and budgetary priorities for the remainder of the legislative session.
There were several highlights for me personally as the governor recapped the successes of last year, including the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which I sponsored during last year’s session, and calling for more strict laws regarding child protection from fentanyl exposure, legislation I will be sponsoring on the Senate side and hopefully moving to the governor’s desk.
Probably the biggest movement on the floor in the Senate was the second reading of several hundred bills and resolutions, all of which can now have public hearings in their assigned committees. I wanted to take time this week to dive a little deeper into one of my priority pieces of legislation that now sits with the Senate Emerging Issues Committee.
Senate Bill 768 would increase military veterans’ access to healing therapies and treatments that include the use of psilocybin. This is a substance primarily found in certain kinds of mushrooms and has historically been used ritualistically or recreationally. I know the mention of mushrooms probably has some people already a little apprehensive, but its medicinal use has been studied over the past several years and has shown great potential in the treatment of PTSD. I believe we are doing a massive disservice to those who have served by not allowing all potential treatments to be on the table for them. The bill I am working on with national veterans groups is a pilot program for one of our medical universities to have. The program has strict guidelines and is all done in a fully clinical setting. Other states that have begun these programs have shown incredible success. I’m truly excited about this bill and pilot program.
In addition to creating access for those who could benefit most from the use of psilocybin, our veterans, the bill also proposes and authorizes funding for grants that would go towards researching the health benefits and efficacy of its usage. This could be a huge untapped resource for those who need mental health remedies, particularly for the treatment of depression and PTSD. The rate of suicide among our veterans is reason enough. They have stood for us; I feel it is a good opportunity to stand for them. I want to make sure we are putting every effort into identifying and implementing treatments that may have been overlooked in the past simply because they were taboo and misunderstood.
I’m not against using traditional medications. However, many of the drugs used to treat depressions, PTSD and other mental health conditions often lead to dependency. Veterans are asking for us to look into natural remedies as well. I am honored to support them.
I am hopeful that the Senate Emerging Issues Committee will hold a hearing for this bill as soon as possible and we can keep moving this important legislation forward. I’m also hopeful that as soon as this bill passes out of committee the gridlock on the floor will be cleared up so we can pass this bill and move it along to the house.