GOP-Backed Bill in Indiana Would Create Fund To Study Shrooms

A proposed bill offered up by a Republican lawmaker in Indiana would open the door for the state to research psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in “magic mushrooms.”

A bill, introduced by GOP state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, would establish “the therapeutic psilocybin research fund,” which would be “administered by the Indiana department of health (state department), to provide financial assistance to research institutions in Indiana to study the use of psilocybin to treat mental health and other medical conditions,” according to the official text of the legislation.

Additionally, the measure would require a “research institution that conducts a clinical study to prepare and submit a report to the interim study committee on public health, behavioral health, and human services, the state department, and the division of mental health and addiction.”

According to the Evansville Courier & Press, the fund would subsidize research institutes to study whether psilocybin could make for an effective treatment for those with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, chronic pain and migraines, and it would “require the studies to prioritize veterans and first responders: groups with a higher likelihood to suffer from the above disorders, especially PTSD.”

“Before taking part, participants would undergo mental evaluations, the bill states. After the studies wraps, researchers would then determine how mushrooms stack up against currently accepted treatments for the targeted issues,” the newspaper said. “They would then ship the results to an ‘interim study committee,’ as well as the state health department and the division of mental health and addiction.”

The bill is the byproduct of the Indiana interim study committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services, of which Charbonneau serves the chair.

In the fall, the committee recommended that the Indiana legislature authorize a psilocybin pilot program. 

According to Cannabis News, the committee was tasked in June with studying “a number of topics related to mental health matters, including psychedelic-assisted therapy.” 

“Specifically, they were charged with studying alternative treatment options that had been given ‘breakthrough therapy’ status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and examining policies ‘enacted and under consideration in other states’ that allow psilocybin-assisted therapy ‘for veterans, first responders, and others experiencing mental illness,’” the outlet reported.

Cannabis News said that the panel ultimately recommended that the legislature authorize “state research institutions ‘to conduct a pilot clinical study utilizing established therapeutic protocols as a starting point to explore the efficacy, safety, and feasibility of psilocybin assisted therapy in Indiana.’”

Charbonneau said at the time that he had held discussions with both Indiana University Health and Purdue University about the research program.

“I spoke to 150 pharmacy students at Purdue, and afterward had a chance to speak with the dean of the pharmacy program,” the lawmaker said, as quoted by Cannabis News.

Charbonneau said that the dean texted Dr. Jerome Adams, a former United States surgeon general in the Trump administration who is now Presidential Fellow and the Executive Director of Purdue’s Health Equity Initiatives.

“We’ve had a talk,” Charbonneau said at the time, regarding his conversations with the universities. “They’re interested in possibly moving forward, but that’s just a preliminary talk.”

As the outlet Benzinga noted, the clock is ticking for the bill to be approved.

The proposal was “filed as an emergency measure, meaning it would take effect immediately upon passage, which could come as early as this week,” according to Benzinga, noting that officials “would need to establish fund administration and application processes by July 1.”

“While the bill creates the fund, it doesn’t initially allocate any money. Donations, gifts and state appropriations would fill its coffers. After completing research, the funded institutions must report their findings and recommendations to various entities, including the Department of Health and an interim study committee on health issues,” the outlet said.

Psilocybin’s therapeutic benefits have long been touted by advocates, but the substance has only recently been championed by elected officials and policymakers. Emboldened by the shifting public opinion, activists have also tried to usher in reform themselves. 

In California, a campaign to get a psilocybin proposal on the state’s ballot this year said this week that it had fallen short of that goal

According to Marijuana Moment, this marked the “the third election cycle that Decriminalize California has made a play for the ballot, only to fall short amid what organizers say is a variety of complicating factors, including voter confusion over a failed legislative push for psychedelics decriminalization and separate reform campaigns also seeking to put their measures before voters.”

“As exhausting as this process has been, we’ve learned some extraordinary techniques that we’re going to put into effect for something much larger than this as it was, because psychedelics was basically a delivery mechanism for a better society,” Ryan Munevar, campaign director of Decriminalize California, said. “That was the goal, at least.”

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