Senate leaders introduce bipartisan legislation authorizing psychedelic medical treatment for veterans, first responders

Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones and Senator Josh Becker introduced the bipartisan “Heal Our Heroes Act” as Senate Bill 803, which creates a narrow pilot program for military veterans and first responders to access psilocybin or psilocyn for mental health treatments in a regulated setting. Click here for the bill’s fact sheet.

State Senator Brian W. Jones.

“As a dedicated advocate for veterans and first responders, I firmly believe it is our duty to support and heal the brave individuals who served our country and communities,” said Jones. “To be clear, I’m not calling for the widespread legalization of psychedelic drugs. Rather, I’m championing a targeted medical treatment aimed specifically at aiding veterans and first responders in their recovery. The Heal Our Heroes Act is a thoughtful and balanced measure designed to rigorously study the effectiveness of these treatments with the hope of providing much-needed relief to those patients who need it most.”

Senator Josh Becker.

“SB 803 is an entirely new and innovative effort that is the result of comprehensive discussions on how the state can best support our veterans and first responders with a viable treatment for work-induced post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Becker. “We have a responsibility to do everything possible to provide quality care to these heroes, and I am proud to joint author this bipartisan effort that will have a real impact on the people who serve our state and country.”

The Heal Our Heroes Act authorizes San Francisco, Santa Cruz and San Diego counties to run a pilot program to offer treatment using psilocybin or psilocyn to military veterans or first responders. The counties will be responsible for authorizing the facilitators who must be a licensed physician or surgeon, clinical psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, licensed professional clinical counselor, or a naturopathic doctor. The pilot sunsets after three years and requires data collection and reporting at the two-year mark. The program includes several safety measures, such as requiring a suitability screening for each participant to ensure they are a safe candidate for treatment.

“As a decorated combat Veteran and mental health advocate that has struggled with PTSD, I applaud the bipartisan coalition that is supporting the legislation Senator Becker and Senator Jones have authored,” said Jason Moore Brown, a veteran with Heroic Hearts, a sponsor of the measure. “We’ve struggled to find meaningful support on this matter so I’m very thankful to the senators. We have lost over 130,000 Veterans to suicide since the Global War on Terror began in 2001. I know first hand that Psilocybin, when used responsibly and with support, has the potential to save the lives of California’s Veterans. This pilot program is the responsible first step to reducing, and hopefully ending, the Veteran suicide epidemic.”

The Heal Our Heroes Act is sponsored by the Heroic Hearts ProjectVeterans Exploring Treatment Solutions (VETS), and Law Enforcement Action Partnership. The measure is joint authored by Jones and Becker, and principal coauthored by Assemblymember Marie Waldron.

SB 803 is currently on the Assembly Floor. The Heal Our Heroes Act is expected to be referred to the Assembly Rules Committee for referral to a policy committee. 

Senator Brian W. Jones
Senator Brian W. Jones represents the 40th Senate District which includes the cities of Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, San Diego City communities of Carmel Mountain Ranch, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos, Scripps Ranch, Sorrento Valley and University City, along with the San Diego County unincorporated communities of 4S Ranch, Alpine, Bonsall, Fallbrook, Lakeside, Pine Valley, Rainbow, Ramona, and Valley Center.

Senator Josh Becker
Senator Josh Becker represents the 13th Senate District covering portions of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and includes the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Mountain View, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and Woodside.