Alaska Lawmakers File Bills To Create Psychedelics Task Force To Explore Legalization Frameworks And Therapeutic Uses

January 12, 2024 · Marijuana Moment

Alaska lawmakers have filed a pair of bills to create a state task force responsible for studying and making recommendations on psychedelic policy issues, including frameworks for legalization and licensure for therapeutic practitioners.

Sen. Forrest Dunbar (D) and Rep. Jennie Armstrong (D) introduced identical companion versions of the legislation on Monday.

The bills would establish an Alaska Mental Health and Psychedelic Medicine Task Force under the state Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. The body would be comprised of government representatives and experts in mental health, psychiatry and more.

Members would be charged with assessing the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelics for mental health treatment, barriers to equitable access and “licensing and insurance requirements” for practitioners if any psychedelics receive federal approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

They would also need to “consider legal and regulatory pathways to the legalization of psychedelic medicines in the state, and the potential effects of the medicines on public health.”

The state commissioners of health, veterans’ affairs and commerce, or their designees, would have to sit on the task force. The bills also stipulate that members must include a mental health expert, a representative of Alaska’s Native communities, a psychiatrist, a health-focused professor at the University of Alaska and legislative appointees selected by House and Senate leadership.

Members must meet at least four times before submitting a report with findings and recommendations to the legislature and governor by December 31, 2024, the bills say.

A number of states have moved to enact similar bodies over recent sessions as interest in psychedelic medicines has expanded and researchers push for FDA approval of drugs such as MDMA and psilocybin.

FDA is actively considering a new drug application for MDMA as a possible treatment option for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the agency weighs the application, new standards from the American Medical Association (AMA) have officially taken effect that assign psychedelics-specific codes to collect data on the novel therapies.

In another milestone, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently issued a request for applications to conduct in-depth research on the use of psychedelics to treat PTSD and depression.

In California, meanwhile, a Republican lawmaker filed legislation earlier this month to create a state workgroup that would be tasked with exploring a regulatory framework to provide therapeutic access to psychedelics like psilocybin and ibogaine and eventually allow health professionals to administer certain psychedelics to military combat veterans.

Massachusetts officials have separately certified that activists submitted enough valid signatures to force legislative consideration of a psychedelics legalization initiative before the measure potentially heads to the state’s 2024 ballot.

Nevada psychedelics activists said last month that they had a “productive meeting” with the Republican governor’s office about the need to expeditiously form a task force under a law enacted last year in order to inform future reform—including the possible legalization of plant-based medicines.

Also, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this month confirmed that the spores of psychedelic mushrooms are federally legal prior to germination because they do not contain the controlled substances psilocybin or psylocin. (Full Story)

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