A bill under consideration by the state legislature would make Illinois the third state in the country to decriminalize psilocybin, the hallucinogenic component of mushrooms, and establish the Illinois Psilocybin Advisory Board to structure a psychedelic therapy program.
Supervised adult use of psilocybin is already legal in Oregon and Colorado, and lawmakers are looking to potentially make it legal in Illinois during this session.
“Illinois has an opportunity to be a leader in the Midwest for this kind of facilitated use of psychedelics and the demand is here, the research is out there,” said Jean Lacey, executive director of Entheo IL, a coalition that is advocating for the passage of Illinois HB1.
Called the CURE Act, CURE stands for Compassionate Use and Research of Entheogens.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
“Entheogens are a class of substances that encompass compounds like psilocybin, like DMT, like LSD, all of these substances induce this kind of mystical experience or altered state of consciousness that that people describe as entheogenic,” Lacey said.
After being approached by doctors, veterans battling PTSD and other researchers, State Rep. La Shawn Ford sponsored the bill that treats psychedelics differently than cannabis.
“That's very important that there will be no retail sales, that you can't take it home to use. You have to stay in a healthcare setting,” Rep. Ford said.
Imagine Healthcare, on the near west side, could become one of those clinics, if the bill passes.
“We know that the science is there,” said Dr. Rachel Norris, the founder of Imagine Healthcare.
A medical doctor who previously worked in emergency medicine and palliative care, Norris opened the clinic on West Grand to provide ketamine-focused care, but Norris said she would be interested into expanding into psychedelic therapy if it becomes legal.
“It's frustrating for me as a provider, not to be able to provide something that I know, based on scientific research and tons of anecdotal evidence too, from people that have been using it on their own for years, that this works,” Dr. Norris said.
One advocate is Ajooni Sethi, who said mushrooms changed her life.
“Psychedelics came into my life at a time when I was feeling pretty hopeless and pretty alone,” Sethi said.
Originally from Palatine and now living near the Quad Cities, Sethi turned to psychedelic therapy to overcome sexual trauma she had experienced as a child.
“What psychedelics do is they offer a non-ordinary experience because our ego is just trying to push that information down because we have been conditioned, we've conditioned our body for survival, and to not deal with that experience because it was just too big,” Sethi said.
“So if you have, like I did, 20 years of conditioning to not deal with that memory, you're going to need something that pulls you out of that ordinary egoic state of consciousness to help you deal with it,” she added.
Sethi had to travel out of state to use mushrooms with a trained therapist, but the CURE Act would change that.
“It's a tool that we know works for people who have intense trauma, complex trauma. So why would it not be available just like other pharmaceuticals are?” Sethi said.