Alaska to create task force to prepare state for MDMA therapy

May 20, 2024 · Green Market Report

The Alaska legislature passed a bill to establish a task force that will help prepare the state for potential federal legalization of psychedelic therapies, officials said.

The task force won’t take a stance on whether psychedelic treatments are beneficial, said Rep. Jennie Armstrong, an Anchorage Democrat who introduced the House version of the bill that passed on May 10, but it aims to ensure the state is ready if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves such therapies, she said.

The FDA is expected to decide this fall on whether to approve MDMA, sometimes known as ecstasy, as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans, first responders, and Alaska Native people experience PTSD at higher rates than the general population, according to Alaska Public Media.

Rep. Armstrong said the task force’s main focus will be ensuring that any federally approved psychedelic therapies are covered by insurance, including Medicaid, so that all Alaskans have access. The group will purportedly include advocates for the health care needs of Alaska Native people, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“When you look at the rates of trauma, and harm and mental health issues and addiction issues, and suicide rates in our state…you can just imagine how profound that is going to be on the state of Alaska, if we can ensure that those who qualify and need this medicine can get access to it,” Armstrong said.

While some other states have moved to decriminalize psychedelics, Armstrong said Alaska’s approach is different because the task force recommendations will align with any FDA approvals rather than advancing state-level legalization.

What the task force will do is develop recommendations on licensing, insurance coverage, and regulations for psychedelic treatments. Under the measure’s guidelines, the task force It will operate for one year. The bill now awaits a signature from Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican. (Full Story)

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