Missouri to Use $10M from Opioid Funds to Study Psilocybin

Legislators in the House of Representatives in the state of Missouri have awarded preliminary approval to a budget measure that would allocate $10 million from opioid settlement funds to study grants focused on researching psilocybin’s use in treating opioid-use disorder.

The initiative, HB 2010, was amended in the House. One amendment made in a committee last week would have allocated the $10 million toward conducting research on ibogaine as an opioid-use disorder treatment. This provision was modified to fund studies on psilocybin instead. Ibogaine’s addition to HB 2010 was facilitated by Representative Chad Perkins, a long-time law enforcement officer.

The sponsor of the underlying budget measure, Representative Cody Smith, stated that the amendment arose from a conversation he had with a representative from the state’s mental-health department. Smith explained that the department had concerns about research on ibogaine, particularly the danger involved in the drug’s study.

It is expected that in the next 10 or more years, Missouri will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement funds linked to opioids.

If the measure is approved in the next floor vote, it will be forwarded to the senate for consideration. Advocates expect that further amendments to the language on psychedelic research in the measure could be made in the senate.

For some time now, psychedelic drug proponents have worked to motivate states to allocate funds to finance deeper research into entheogens such as ibogaine and psilocybin.

Earlier in the year, Stanford University published research findings showing that military combat veterans who had suffered traumatic brain injuries recorded life-changing improvements in their cognitive functioning and symptoms immediately after they receive ibogaine treatment.

To help meet demand for research on ibogaine, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently proposed a significant increase in the drug’s production quota. A house committee in Missouri also approved an initiative that would legalize psilocybin’s medical use by military veterans and fund research on the drug’s therapeutic potential.

Additionally, the House Veterans Committee approved a bill that would permit military veterans aged 21 years and older who were diagnosed with qualifying conditions such as substance-use disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder to legally access lab-grade psilocybin. It should be noted that participants would need to be enrolled in a research involving the psychedelic in order to receive legal protections under the measure.

Missouri isn’t the only state considering psychedelic measures during this session either. In Vermont, the state’s senate recently approved an initiative that would create a working group to conduct research on how and whether to permit therapeutic access to psychedelics in the state. In Arizona, a house panel passed a senate-approved resolution to legalize psilocybin centers where individuals could obtain the drug administered in a supervised setting.

This growing advocacy for psychedelic policy reform is largely benefiting from the scientific literature that start-ups such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) are making public as they conduct their psychedelic drug-development programs.

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