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Activists Renew Effort To Use Opioid Settlement Funds To Study Ibogaine For Addiction In Ohio After Kentucky Plan Falls Through



Psychedelic medicine proponents are redirecting their efforts to use millions in opioid-related state settlement money for ibogaine research from Kentucky to Ohio.

The original plan to use $42 million from Kentucky’s opioid settlement fund for psychedelics research fell through late last year after the state’s new attorney general replaced then-Kentucky Opioid Commission Chairman Bryan Hubbard, who was spearheading the ibogaine initiative, with a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official.

Now Hubbard has joined ResultsOHIO, a division of the Ohio Treasurer’s Office, where he will be partnering with the Reaching Everyone in Distress (REID) Foundation in hopes of securing a portion of that state’s opioid settlement funds to promote psychedelics clinical trials for substance misuse treatment.

“I’m honored to work with the REID Foundation and the people of Ohio to bring hope and healing to veterans and families being torn apart by the opioid crisis,” Hubbard said in a press release. “The development of ibogaine as a treatment option for opioid-dependent individuals is a moral imperative.”

A Kentucky commission focused on opioid overdose abatement held several meetings last year to go over the ibogaine initiative that’s since fizzled out in that state under the new attorney general. Members heard testimony from military veterans, parents, psychologists and other advocates—including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)—about the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.

Like Kentucky, Ohio has been hard hit by the opioid overdose crisis. And under the settlement agreement, the state is expected to receive about $1 billion that could be used for various programs and services to help mitigate the public health issue.

The plan for the ibogaine effort is to seek funding for the research through a public-private partnership, while also exploring the creation of a specific program under ResultsOHIO to facilitate the partial settlement distribution, Psychedelic Alpha reported.

Hubbard said that they would be requesting a “small percentage” of the settlement fund for the psychedelics work. The goal is to create the research infrastructure that could eventually be used to explore access to ibogaine treatment for people with substance misuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), for example.

To that end, a Stanford University study published last month found that military combat veterans with TBI saw “dramatic” and “life-changing” improvements in their symptoms and cognitive functioning immediately after receiving treatment with ibogaine.

“As a father who tried everything to find healing for my son, this research appears to be the breakthrough we were praying for,” Rex Elsass, founder of the REID Foundation, said. “It could offer hope to millions of individuals battling substance use disorders worldwide. The REID Foundation is excited to join with Bryan Hubbard to get this important research done.”

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Meanwhile, in response to the increased demand for research, DEA has proposed a dramatic escalation in the production quota for ibogaine and other psychedelic compounds in 2024.

A Republican congressman introduced a bill this month to direct the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to notify lawmakers if the agency adds a psychedelic drug to its formulary of covered prescription medicines.

Currently, there are no psychedelic drugs that are federally approved to prescribe as medicine. But that could soon change, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently agreed to review a new drug application for MDMA-assisted therapy on an expedited basis.

Last month, VA separately issued a request for applications to conduct in-depth research on the use of psychedelics to treat PTSD and depression.

In October, the agency also launched a new podcast about the future of veteran health care, and the first episode of the series focuses on the healing potential of psychedelics.

Meanwhile, FDA recently joined scientists at a public meeting on next steps for conducting research to develop psychedelic medicines.

That came months after FDA issued historic draft guidance on psychedelics studies, providing scientists with a framework to carry out research that could lead to the development of novel medicines.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr/Scamperdale.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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