Minnesota Lawmakers Include Psychedelics Provisions In Large-Scale Health Bill Heading To Floor Vote Soon
Minnesota lawmakers have attached the provisions of a bill to create a psychedelics task force that would prepare the state for possible legalization to large-scale omnibus health legislation that could reach the House floor soon.
The House Health Finance and Policy Committee last week adopted an author’s amendment to the broader bill that inserted a revised version of the psychedelics measure from Rep. Andy Smith (D).
The Psychedelic Medicine Task Force, if approved, would be charged with advising lawmakers on “the legal, medical, and policy issues associated with the legalization of psychedelic medicine in the state,” the legislation says.
It would need to “survey existing studies in the scientific literature on the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic medicine in the treatment of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder, and any other mental health conditions and medical conditions for which a psychedelic medicine may provide an effective treatment option.”
It would then develop a plan addressing “statutory changes necessary for the legalization of psychedelic medicine” and “state and local regulation of psychedelic medicine.”
The omnibus with that psychedelics language must still be approved by the Ways & Means Committee, which may happen as early as next week after lawmakers return from recess. If advanced through that panel, its next stop would be the floor.
In addition to some mostly technical changes, the author’s amendment adopted in committee also changed the psychedelics bill as it was introduced in standalone form in two substantive ways. First, the number of substances that the task force would be narrowed to just psilocybin, MDMA and LSD.
Previously, the task force would have been instructed to also look at mescaline, bufotenine, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, 2C-B, ibogaine, salvinorin A and ketamine.
Members of the panel last week also adopted the amendment without including a prior committee-approved change to the task force appointment provisions. In an effort to bolster the bill’s bipartisan appeal, the sponsor made it so the minority leaders of both chambers, as well as the majority leaders, could each appoint one member. But that revision has been stripped in the omnibus.
“Unfortunately, most of these drugs kind of got wrapped around the world on drugs in the 1980s and so there’s a lot of antiquated laws that are stymieing both the research and allowing these drugs to be used in treatment,” Smith recently told KIMT-TV. “The goal of the task force is to see how we can roll back those regulations well and responsibly.”
Psychedelics “have incredible potential to help people who are suffering from depression and at a much cheaper cost,” he said.
The 23-member task force would have to consist of officials and experts, including the governor or a designee, the health commissioner, the state attorney general or a designee, two tribal representatives, people with expertise in substance misuse treatment, public health policy experts, military veterans with mental health conditions and more.
“The task force shall submit two reports to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over health and human services that detail the task force’s findings regarding the legalization of psychedelic medicine in the state, including the comprehensive plan developed under subdivision,” it says. “The first report must be submitted by February 1, 2024, and the second report must be submitted by January 1, 2025.”
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Kurtis Hanna, a registered lobbyist for Minnesota NORML who is working to advance this bill pro bono as a citizen lobbyist, told Marijuana Moment that last week’s committee action to adopt the psychedelics measure to the omnibus “brings us one step closer to the Minnesota executive branch being formally tasked with studying the therapeutic potential of these substances, which have been unfairly stigmatized for far too long.”
“Additionally, legal research will be required to be conducted, with a focus on reducing the risk of running afoul of federal law if access to these substances is provided to Minnesotans by the State legislature in a future session,” he said. “This is something which has not ever been meaningfully done for medical cannabis, which has been legal in Minnesota since 2014.”
“By finally taking these substances seriously, the members of future legislative sessions will be far better equipped to make decisions related to providing Minnesotans legal access to psychedelic medicines, potentially paving the way for a revolution in how mental health is treated in our state,” Hanna said.
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