Iowa GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Legalize Medicinal Psilocybin, MDMA

Do medicinal psychedelics stand a chance in Iowa?
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Republican lawmaker Rep. Jeff Shipley has introduced a bill in the Iowa legislature that would legalize the medicinal use of psilocybin, MDMA, and the hallucinogenic drug ibogaine. Another bill from the freshman representative would remove only psilocybin from Iowa’s list of controlled substances.

Shipley introduced both bills in the House of Representatives on February 6. House File 249 (HF 249), would remove ibogaine, psilocybin, and MDMA from the state’s list of schedule I controlled substances and allow for the state to create rules for the medicinal use of the drugs. House File 248 (HF 248) would remove only psilocybin from schedule I of the Iowa uniform controlled substances act.

Shipley said in an email to Marijuana Moment that research is the key to solving America’s health challenges.

“Exploring these issues are paramount to solving the healthcare crisis,” Shipley said. “There’s so much potential for research and clinical applications. I hope we can empower and trust patients to make their own best decisions.”

Research Shows Promise for Medical Use of Psychedelics

A study of terminally ill cancer patients was conducted at Johns Hopkins University in 2016. Dr. Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology, said that researchers found that psilocybin treatment can result in a marked improvement in the mental well-being of patients.

“The most interesting and remarkable finding is that a single dose of psilocybin, which lasts four to six hours, produced enduring decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms, and this may represent a fascinating new model for treating some psychiatric conditions,” said Griffiths.

Six months after psilocybin treatment, 80 percent of the patients in the study showed significant decreases in anxiety and depression. Increases in well-being were reported by 83 percent of patients and two-thirds said the treatment session was one of the five most meaningful experiences in their lives.

“A life-threatening cancer diagnosis can be psychologically challenging, with anxiety and depression as very common symptoms,” said Griffiths. “People with this kind of existential anxiety often feel hopeless and are worried about the meaning of life and what happens upon death.”

Griffiths said that the results of the study were beyond his expectations.

“Before beginning the study, it wasn’t clear to me that this treatment would be helpful, since cancer patients may experience profound hopelessness in response to their diagnosis, which is often followed by multiple surgeries and prolonged chemotherapy,” he said. “I could imagine that cancer patients would receive psilocybin, look into the existential void and come out even more fearful. However, the positive changes in attitudes, moods and behavior that we documented in healthy volunteers were replicated in cancer patients.”

A hospital in Australia announced last month that it would conduct a similar study of psilocybin. Other research has shown that ibogaine may be effective as a treatment for addiction, and MDMA shows promise as a therapy for PTSD.

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