Jeff Shipley of Iowa Proposes Laws Allowing Medicinal Use of Psychedelics

Jeff Shipley, an Iowa lawmaker is at the forefront of efforts to increase access to psychedelic medicine in the United States.

Mr. Shipley is hoping to decriminalize psychedelic drugs for medicinal purposes in Iowa. To that end, he introduced a series of drug bills in the Iowa legislature earlier this year. One of them would allow the Iowa state pharmacy board to reclassify psilocybin, ibogaine, and MDMA for medicinal purposes. The measure would also remove the criminal penalties associated with the drugs when they are used for medicinal purposes. If passed, another bill would remove psilocybin and psilocin from the list of substances thought to have no currently accepted medical use.  Links to the Proposed Legislation are listed below.  Presently, the legislation appears to focus on particular chemicals (e.g., psilocybin) rather than the organisms (e.g., mushrooms) comprising those molecules.  For a discussion of that distinction, see Taking Pure Psilocybin is Different From Eating Magic Mushrooms.

Mr. Shipley discussed his drug bills at the Iowa Capital. The DeMoines Register published a video with some of his statements. Notably, Mr. Shipley asserts that Nature provides tools that we need to “cure” mental health problems; but that existing drug laws prevent society from benefiting from these tools.  Mr. Shipley also distinguishes between (A) existing approaches for treating mental health with a lifetime of prescription drugs versus (B) curing mental health problems with substances that the healthcare industry has neglected to research and develop on account of improperly criminalizing certain drugs.

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

Shipley believes that Iowans recovering from drug addictions and other health ailments could benefit from more accessibility to drugs that are presently miscategorized as having no medicinal purposes.  This position is supported by recent statements from scientists at Johns Hopkins who recommended reclassifying certain psychedelic substances.

Despite his conviction on the issue, Mr. Shipley also recognizes the challenges ahead for his drug reform efforts: “Obviously, it is very controversial and does elicit a lot of feelings,” he said on how fellow Republicans have responded so far. He said his colleagues aren’t promising support, “but people are open-minded and they’re curious.”

The legalization measures appear to be among the first of their kind to be introduced in the Iowa Legislature.

Jeff Shipley’s Proposed Legislation for Legalizing the Medicinal Use of Psychedelic Drugs

Below are links to the relevant “House Files” (HF) introduced by Mr. Shipley.

H.F. 248 seeks to remove psilocybin and psilocin from the list of substances classified as scheduleI controlled substances under Iowa’s uniform controlled substances Act.

H.F. 249 seeks to amend Iowa law to include exceptions for the medical use of certain drugs, including MDMA, psilocybin, and ibogaine.

H.F. 319 seeks to exclude plants having less than 0.3% THC from the definition of marijuana.

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