A Republican Iowa lawmaker recently filed a bill that would allow seriously ill people to use psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, LSD, DMT or peyote as alternative treatments after they’ve exhausted traditional legal medicines.
Rep. Jeff Shipley (R), who also introduced legislation earlier this month that would remove psilocybin from the state’s list of controlled drugs, told Marijuana Moment that adding these substances to Iowa’s “right to try” law would be “the most conservative approach to usher in the new age of mental and emotional healthcare.”
“This bill relates to the decriminalization of certain schedule I controlled substances for the purposes of use by a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness or a life-threatening disease or condition,” an explanation of the measure states.
Terminally ill patients and those with life-threatening diseases or conditions would be eligible for alternative treatments with the psychedelics if a healthcare provider attests that they 1) considered and rejected, or tried and failed to respond to, traditional pharmaceuticals, 2) received a recommendation to use a controlled substance for treatment, 3) have documentation proving as much and 4) have submitted written informed consent.
The bill was referred to the House Human Resources Committee late last week.
“I wish I had more time to devote to the psychedelic sciences,” Shipley told Marijuana Moment, adding that his “right to try” bill would be a significant reform that could theoretically free up access to experimental therapeutics like psilocybin for certain patients.
President Donald Trump signed a federal “Right to Try Act” in 2018, allowing certain patients to access drugs that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for broad use.
Shipley’s other drug policy bill introduced this month simply states that it “removes psilocybin and psilocyn from the list of substances classified as schedule I controlled substances under Iowa’s uniform Controlled Substances Act.” That bill has been referred to the House Public Safety Committee for consideration.
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The GOP lawmaker first filed a bill to get the policy change enacted in 2019, and then pursued the idea again the next year as an amendment to a spending bill. The standalone legislation died in committee and the amendment was soundly defeated on the floor, in part because some members questioned its germaneness in a budget process.
The Iowa representative said he expects Democratic lawmakers to “repeat their baseless attacks against these proposals,” but that he’s “optimistic for productive conversations this legislative session.”
Asked about the nature of Democratic “attacks” on psychedelics reform, Shipley pointed to a 2019 Iowa Statehouse Progressive Network legislative update that characterized his earlier decriminalization proposal as a bill to “legalize the date rape drug and other hallucinogenic drugs like LSD.”
The text of the legislation did not reference GHB, which is sometimes referred to pejoratively as a “date rape drug,” nor did it provide for the legalization of LSD. It would have removed psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine from the state’s list of schedule I controlled substances.
Even so, while Shipley expects pushback from some Democratic legislators, it remains the case that the Iowa legislature that has declined to act on his previous proposals is controlled by Republicans who have historically avoided embracing drug policy reform. And it remains to be seen whether they will be moved to advance his psychedelics bills this session.
Some Democratic lawmakers in Iowa might not have joined Shipley in his push for psilocybin decriminalization so far, but a large coalition of local and state legislators in the party recently stepped up their call for marijuana legalization and expunging past cannabis convictions. It’s a policy that sets them apart from the legislature’s current GOP leadership, which has not endorsed the reform.
The Iowa Democratic Party also adopted a platform plank supporting “legalizing all drugs” in 2016 as a “divestment strategy in the drug war,” as one delegate described it. But by 2018, that language was toned down, with the party instead aligning with policies to simply remove the criminalization of drug use and vacate the records of individuals with non-violent drug convictions.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mushroom Observer.