Iowa lawmaker proposes legalizing psychedelic drugs for medical purposes

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A Republican lawmaker in Iowa introduced a bill in the state legislature that would legalize using Psilocybin, MDMA and Ibogaine for medical reasons.

Jeff Shipley introduced the bills on February 6 in the House of Representatives. House File 249 would remove the substances from the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances and allow for the state to create laws that would allow the drugs for medical purposes. House File 248 would remove Psilocybin from Schedule 1 of the state’s uniform controlled substances act.

“I believe an Iowan should not be criminalized for trying to use psychedelic substance for medicinal purposes,” Shipley said in a statement. “If these drugs can help our veterans who suffer with PTSD, our family members who suffer with an addiction, or help a loved one get relief from near death anxiety, we should be doing all we can to push making these options safe and available.”

The DEA currently classifies these substances as Schedule 1 drugs, meaning they have no accepted medical use with a high potential abuse. Shipley suggests however, that “a significant body of research indicates that there are substantial benefits.”

Shipley told sources that introducing the bills is a step toward fulfilling promises made during his campaign.

“I’m doing what I told people I was going to do,” said Shipley. “The voters in my district, they’re going to give me a high-five.”

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He said that he believes Iowans recovering from addictions and other illnesses could benefit from drugs like Psilocybin, MDMA and Ibogaine.

“When I was kind of daydreaming on like, ‘Why do I even want to be in the Legislature, why do I want to be a part of the office?’ It was this issue,” said Shipley.

One of Shipley’s proposals would let the Iowa pharmacy board reclassify the three substances for medical purposes as well as remove any current penalties associated with using the substances. 

Psilocybin is the psychedelic compound in mushrooms and there is previous research pointing to the idea that this compound can reduce suicidal thoughts as well as psychological distress. Shipley believes that these options should be made available to people suffering with these symptoms.

“Current tolls offered through the FDA offer treatment of symptoms associated with addiction, anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health issues,” he said in a statement. “Psychedelics offer a potential cure. I support research for what these drugs may offer. In the meantime, I don’t see how putting a person in jail serves the public. Especially when it empowers them to help themselves.”

But not everyone is on board with the idea of decriminalizing psychedelics in Iowa.

Iowa state Rep. Jared Klein, chair of the House Public Safety Committee, says that he does not expect that the bills will advance anytime soon.  

“I haven’t gotten an email from a constituent. I haven’t received a phone call or had discussion with anybody in the medical field saying that, ‘We need to have access to this,’” he said. “It just seems like an idea from one legislator that they wanted to propose as law. Which is their prerogative, but that’s all it is at this point.”

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