A Minnesota House committee on Thursday took up a bill to establish a task force to study and advise on the potential legalization of psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine.
As lawmakers in the state continue to advance a measure to legalize marijuana, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee agreed to pause further action on the psychedelics reform bill from Rep. Andy Smith (D) after adopting an amendment meant to bolster its bipartisan appeal.
The idea is to hold it over in committee so that it can possibly be incorporated into broader omnibus health legislation that’s in the works.
“We’ve seen many, many studies across the medical community that show these drugs have incredible potential to help with various psychological disorders— whether it’s addiction, whether it is OCD, depression, seasonal depression, trauma health,” Smith said. “There’s a wide range of issues that are incredibly helped with these medicines, and that’s why I think we should really start to look seriously at legalizing these drugs in Minnesota.”
Under the bill, a Psychedelic Medicine Task Force would be established in order to “advise the legislature on the legal, medical, and policy issues associated with the legalization of psychedelic medicine in the state.”
The 23-member task force would have to consist of officials and experts, including the governor or a designee, the health commissioner, the state attorney general or a designee, two tribal representatives, people with expertise in substance misuse treatment, public health policy experts, military veterans with mental health conditions and more.
As introduced, the proposal stipulated that the House majority leader and Senate majority leader would each appoint two members of the task force. But the committee adopted an amendment on Thursday to let the minority leaders of both chambers each have one of those appointments.
The amendment was intended to make the bill “more bipartisan than it already is,” Smith, the sponsor, said in committee on Thursday.
Task force members would be required to “survey existing studies in the scientific literature on the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic medicine in the treatment of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, and any other mental health conditions and medical conditions for which a psychedelic medicine may provide an effective treatment option,” the bill text says.
“Psychedelic medicine may include but is not limited to the use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, bufotenine, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, 2C-B, ibogaine, salvinorin A, and ketamine,” it continues.
The task force would need to further assess whether any particular psychedelic is effective in the treatment of any of those conditions, compare that efficacy to conventional drug treatments and develop a plan that considers the “statutory changes necessary for the legalization of psychedelic medicine.” The body would also need to consider state and local regulation of the substances, as well as federal policy “with a focus on retaining state autonomy to act without conflicting with federal law.”
“The task force shall submit two reports to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over health and human services that detail the task force’s findings regarding the legalization of psychedelic medicine in the state, including the comprehensive plan developed under subdivision,” it says. “The first report must be submitted by February 1, 2024, and the second report must be submitted by January 1, 2025.”
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“When one looks at the results of recently published studies on this topic, it becomes very difficult to disagree with the claim that psychedelics are something like the microscope or telescope of psychiatry,” Kurtis Hanna, a registered lobbyist for Minnesota NORML who is working to advance this bill pro bono as a citizen lobbyist, told Marijuana Moment on Thursday.
“A revolution is occurring in the mental health arena,” he added. “It would be willful negligence for the Minnesota legislature to not pass this bill and initiate more thoughtful discussion on whether some sort of access program should be created for mental health patients in Minnesota in the next few years.”
With the Democratic-Labor-Farmer party in the majority in the House and Senate, while holding the governorship, this session, there’s optimism about the prospects of advancing bold drug policy. That includes marijuana legalization legislation that’s moved through numerous committees in both chambers over recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Minnesota is far from the only state where legislators are taking up psychedelics reform this year.
For example, Texas lawmakers recently filed a series of new bills aimed at promoting and expanding psychedelics research in the state.
This month, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin while providing legal protections against prosecution for people with eligible conditions who possess the psychedelic.
Also this month, a Rhode Island House committee held a hearing on a bill that would remove penalties for the use and possession of psilocybin and allow the home cultivation of psychedelic mushrooms for personal use.
The Washington State Senate recently passed a bill to create a task force supporting research into psilocybin and develop a pathway for legal access to the psychedelic.
Hawaii’s Senate and House passed three psychedelics research bills earlier this month.
Missouri lawmakers also cleared a GOP-led bill in committee this month to facilitate research into the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics such as psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine.
Those are just a few examples of the types of reforms that legislators across the country are considering this session.
An analysis published in an American Medical Association journal last year concluded that a majority of states will legalize psychedelics by 2037, based on statistical modeling of policy trends.
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