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Missouri Would Allocate $10 Million from Opioid Settlement to Psilocybin Research in New Budget Bill

The House of Representatives in Missouri has approved a budget bill that allocates $10 million from the state’s opioid settlement funds for research grants. But not just any research grants. These are intended to explore the effectiveness of psilocybin in treating opioid use disorder, which is currently considered a public health crisis in the United States.

Originally, thanks to an addition to the bill that came up in a House committee last week, the bill, HB 2010, would have used the $10 million to actually study ibogaine for treating opioid use disorder. However, on Tuesday, that was modified to redirect the funds towards psilocybin research instead. Currently, the measure would allocate a one-time sum of $10 million from the state’s Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund to pay for grants for research universities. These grants are created to finance the study of the role of psilocybin in healing for substance use disorder.

Rep. Cody Smith (R), who introduced the original budget bill, noted that the shift in funding towards psilocybin research stemmed from a discussion he had with the state Department of Mental Health last week.

“They had concerns about the ibogaine research they had read, and there are concerns about the dangers involved in that research,” Smith said. “However, they are interested in the psilocybin piece. And we’ve seen many other states use their opioid settlement funds to that end.”

Smith isn’t the only Republican who backed the original ibogaine research plan. Rep. Chad Perkins (R), another supporter of the ibogaine research plan, told Marijuana Moment in an email: “I had several concerned individuals reach out and provide me with information regarding the potential benefits of ibogaine. After some research, I believed it was a worthy and prudent investment for the state to combat opiate addiction.”

Missouri is expected to get hundreds of millions of dollars in opioid-related settlement funds, which were collected through various lawsuits against the opioid industry and related entities, over the next several decades, And psychedelic advocates are working to allocate that money toward treatment models to help stop the opioid crisis through treatment.

Last year, Kentucky also considered putting money towards researching ibogaine for opiate use disorder. However, they ultimately also backed away from that plan, and advocates set their sights on other states, such as Missouri. Research indeed shows that ibogaine could be revolutionary for healing addiction. One study found that just a single ibogaine treatment not only reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms but “achieved opioid cessation or sustained reduced use in dependent individuals as measured over 12 months.” However, ibogaine is still illegal in the U.S., and unlike psychedelics like psilocybin, it can lead to cardiac arrest and death, which is likely why the lawmakers opted for psilocybin. 

While many folks believe that the risks of a single ibogaine treatment are worth kicking a deadly opioid addiction, Perkins told Marijuana Moment that he’s satisfied with the shift towards psilocybin. “I’m not disappointed,” he said. “I believe that bringing more exposure to the benefits of psychedelics has been an ancillary effect of the pursuit of this budget item. This issue will hopefully raise the profile of psychedelics and provide a foundation on which we can base future policy decisions.”

Psilocybin is also indicated for opiate use disorder. As TIME reports, a 2022 study featured in Scientific Reports analyzed data from 214,505 U.S. adults whose information was gathered in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) spanning 2015 to 2019. This investigation uncovered a link between a history of psilocybin usage (at any point in a person’s life) and a diminished risk of developing opioid use disorder. 

The study examined 11 criteria used by scientists to identify opioid use disorder (such as dedicating considerable time to acquiring and consuming drugs) and discovered that previously taking psilocybin actually was significantly associated with a reduced chance for seven of these criteria, and slightly reduced odds for two additional criteria, giving folks a pretty awesome excuse to enjoy some magic mushrooms. 

Missouri sets a precedent for even more conservative governments embracing psychedelic therapies to combat the ongoing opioid crisis. In just a handful of examples, recently, the Governor of Indiana signed legislation that included measures to support clinical research trials investigating psilocybin. And in Utah, the Governor established a pilot program that allows hospitals to offer psilocybin and MDMA as alternative treatments. Furthermore, a committee in the Arizona House endorsed a bill that would legalize psilocybin service centers, where folks use the psychedelic under medical supervision.

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