Colorado Governor Signs Psychedelics Bill

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law on May 23 that established a regulatory framework for psychedelic substances. 

SB23-290, also called Natural Medicine Regulation and Legalization, was signed just a few weeks after it was approved in the Senate with House amendments. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steven Fenberg and Rep. Judy Amabile, and is set to take effect starting on July 1.

The Colorado Times Recorder spoke with Tasia Poinsatte, director of the Healing Advocacy Fund of Colorado, last month about the bill’s potential. “Our state is facing a mental health crisis, and our current system has been unable to meet the needs of those who are struggling, including the many veterans in our state who are at a high risk of suicide,” said Poinsatte. “Colorado voters agreed with the passage of Prop. 122 that we need to open new, innovative pathways to healing for those who are struggling with mental health conditions.”

The law doesn’t place limitations on personal possession for any psychedelic substance, ranging from dimethyltryptamine (DMT), mescaline, ibogaine, psilocybin, or psilocin. Psilocybin and psilocin will be administered at “healing centers,” but it does allow other substances to be added later.

The bill also states that anyone under 21 who possesses or consumes a natural medicine product will only be subject to a fine of $100 or less, and a maximum of four hours of “substance use education or counseling.” More than one offense results in the same fine and education requirement, with an added 24 hours of “useful public service.”

The cultivation of natural medicine is permitted if it’s happening on a person’s private property within a 12-by-12-foot space. However, anyone who is not licensed and “knowingly manufactures [a] natural medicine product using an inherently hazardous substance” is committing a level 2 drug felony. An “inherently hazardous substance” refers to solvents such as butane, propane, and diethyl ether.

The bill also includes protections for consumers, stating that a person using a natural medicine doesn’t solely constitute as child abuse or neglect, is not grounds for being denied health coverage, doesn’t disqualify a person to be discriminated against if they’re eligible for organ donation, and “must not be considered for public assistance benefits eligibility.”

A person with a natural medicine conviction is also eligible to have the conviction record sealed “immediately after the later date of final disposition or release from supervision.”

The bill calls for the creation of a natural medicine advisory board to examine “issues related to natural medicine and natural medicine product, and making recommendations to the director of the division of professions and occupations and the executive director of the state licensing authority.” It also requires the creation of a division of natural medicine to be established within the department of revenue to regulate licensing for “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, distribution, transport, transfer, and dispensation of natural medicine or natural medicine product between natural medicine licensees.”

Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, also referred to as the Natural Medicine Health Act, by 52.64% last November to decriminalize psychedelics. “This is a historic moment for both the people of Colorado and our country,” said Natural Medicine Colorado coalition director Kevin Matthews. “I think this demonstrates that voters here in Colorado are ready for new options and another choice for healing, especially when it comes to their mental and behavioral health.”

The initiative took effect in December 2022. “Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” said Polis. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”

Coverage from Westword shows that advocates aren’t happy with the law, stating that it’s too restrictive. According to sponsor Amabile, the bill is solid but won’t make everyone happy. “My takeaway from the testimony is that ballot measure 122 is controversial,” Amabile said at a meeting in late April. “It has a lot of aspects that some people like. It has aspects that the people who like some parts of it don’t like. It has parts that nobody likes.”

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Legalizing Psychedelics: California & the United States

California is one step closer to legalizing psychedelics. A State Senate committee approved a bill that legalizes possessing certain psychedelic substances. The bill looks to legalize the “possession, preparation, obtaining, transfer, as specified, or transportation” of small amounts of psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for personal use. LSD and MDMA will remain illegal due to an appeal to nature. While earlier versions of the bill included them, some felt LSD and MDMA are synthetic and thus not genuine plant-based […]

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From the Archives: The Ibogaine Factor (1995)

By Paul Derienzo

Top-level federal researchers and bureaucrats, as well as grass-roots activists in drug-ravaged urban communities, have discovered ibogaine, the controversial drug that advocates tout as an “addiction interrupter” and one scientist calls a “probe into the inner workings of the human brain.”

Derived from iboga, an hallucinogenic plant of the West African rainforests, ibogaine is illegal in the USA. But addicts have been successfully treated with the drug in programs run overseas by private outfits, which are now pressuring the federal government to legalize the treatment.

The ibogaine controversy was aired at a March 8 conference in the Washington suburbs called by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Amidst heated debate between pro and anti-ibogaine factions, Frank Vocci, deputy director of NIDA’s Medications Development Division, expressed misgivings over human ibogaine testing conducted in Europe, Israel and Panama, and the reliance on “anecdotal evidence” of its efficacy in interrupting heroin and cocaine withdrawal symptoms. He concluded, however, that ibogaine research is “here to stay.”

Dr. Carlo Contoreggi of NIDA’s Division of Intramural Research said “even if ibogaine is slowed down, it’s too late to stop it. They know it works. NIDA views it as a fascinating window into the human brain, a probe to the farthest reaches of addictive behavior.”

Howard Lotsof, who heads NDA International, the company that holds the ibogaine-therapy patents, summarized the 60 treatments his group has performed, mostly in Holland. Lotsof characterized the drug’s effectiveness as “15 percent success, 15 percent failure, with the length of interruption in everyone else falling somewhere in between on a bell curve.”

Among the strongest ibogaine advocates at the conference was Dr. Deborah Mash of the University of Miami Medicine School’s Neurology Department, who is conducting the first FDA-sanctioned human testing (“FDA Approves Ibogaine Research on Humans,” Jan. ’94 HT). Mash has identified an ibogaine metabolite, 12-hydroxy-ibogamine, which is active at opiate receptor sites in the cerebellum.

According to one high-level NIDA official, her discovery is among the most significant in the study of addiction.

But drug-research consultant Dr. Peter Hoyle, who was involved in the controversial approval of the AIDS drug AZT, is an adamant ibogaine critic. He said he doesn’t think enough preclinical work has been done to support human trials. He said the mechanism of ibogaine’s action is still unclear, and raised the specter of ibogaine toxicity, based on massive overdosing of laboratory dogs and rats.

Others countered that despite the high doses—far greater than the doses used on humans—only one of the laboratory animals died. Dr. Mark Molliver of Johns Hopkins University, who first published results showing brain damage in rats given massive doses of ibogaine, said studies in monkeys showed only minor evidence of cell damage.

Mash dismissed reports of cell damage. Her own primate studies show absolutely no cell damage. In the conference’s most dramatic moment, she presented an actual human brain, of a heroin addict who died a month after she had received an ibogaine treatment in Panama. The patient died in Miami, where she had gone for a medical exam after experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. The local medical examiner who did the autopsy was an associate of Mash. According to the autopsy report, the brain showed no damage to the cerebellum area where ibogaine is active.

One source close to federal researchers says there are powerful forces arrayed against ibogaine inside the drug-policy bureaucracy. These forces are said to be centered around the methadone establishment.

Methadone is a heroin substitute invented in 1930s Germany and initially called Dolophine after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Government-funded clinics coast-to-coast dispense it to addicts in “maintenance” programs aimed at controlling addiction. According to the source, there are some scientists who have built their careers on methadone research and are fighting tooth-and-nail against ibogaine. A “methadone mafia” is said to be entrenched in the drug policy bureaucracy.

On March 4, mere days before the Washington conference, 400 people jammed a forum on ibogaine in New York City’s African American community of Harlem. The forum, jointly organized by the Black Coalition on Drugs and the African Descendants Awareness Movement, was held at a community center near the mosque where Malcolm X was once minister. Among the scheduled speakers were two former Black Panther political prisoners.

After 19 years in prison, Dhoruba bin Wahad was recently cleared of charges linking him to the shooting of two police officers in 1971. Dhoruba had been raiding South Bronx drug locations that operated with the connivance of corrupt officers and then publicly dumping the drugs into sewers.

Dhoruba couldn’t make the forum because of a delay in his flight from Ghana, but speaking in his place was Eddie Ellis, also a former Panther and a veteran of 25 years incarceration.

Through a letter from Dhoruba, the Black Coalition on Drugs voiced full support of ibogaine, stating that the drug should be made available to the estimated 800,000 heroin and cocaine addicts in the USA. Rommel Washington, a Harlem Hospital social worker who has observed several ibogaine treatments, led the audience in chanting “Ibogaine is life!”

Questions about ibogaine’s pharmacological properties were fielded by Dr. John Morgan of City College of New York, who recounted reports from nearly 80 addicts who have received ibogaine treatments in Holland, Panama and other countries. He says it has been shown to alleviate morphine withdrawal in preclinical tests and anecdotal evidence. But the doctor also cautioned the gathering that some scientists were actively trying to halt human ibogaine testing.

Howard Lotsof called on the forum participants to increase the pressure on NIDA and local elected officials such as Rep. Charles Rangel, a hard-line Drug Warrior who once chaired a congressional subcommittee on narcotics.

Natural-healing advocate John Harris, who appears regularly on local radio, spoke on iboga’s historic use in African rite-of-passage ceremonies. Drawing a parallel, he advocated involvement of the addict’s family and friends in ibogaine treatment.

Longtime organizer Dana Beal, veteran Yippie and fixture on the marijuana-activist scene, spoke in support of a “harm reduction” approach combining ibogaine with medical marijuana and long-term counseling as a holistic anti-addiction strategy. Beal says ibogaine is best understood through study of West Africa’s Bwiti spiritual tradition, in which practitioners under the influence of iboga are said to meet with their ancestors in a life-transforming experience.

Despite the hope many participants held for ibogaine, the impassioned question-and-answer session indicated that many saw a contradiction between the white medical establishment’s control of drug policy and an African-American community determined to explore an addiction treatment derived from an African rainforest plant.

Organizer Brother Shine asked rhetorically if black Americans can depend on the medical establishment to treat ibogaine research fairly—and answered his own question by urging grass-roots involvement to ensure that the drug ultimately comes under the control of the local communities hardest hit by addiction. 

High Times Magazine, August 1995

Read the full issue here.

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Two Bills to Decriminalize Psychedelics Filed in Massachusetts

Two bills were filed in Massachusetts to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline, and ibogaine. The bills would end the prosecution of psychedelic substances in the Bay State.

The Boston Herald reports that companion bills were filed in the Massachusetts House and Senate. The House bill, “An Act relative to plant medicine,” or Bill HD.1450, was filed by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa. The Senate bill, titled “An act relative to plant medicine,” Bill SD.949 was filed by Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

Adults ages 18 and older would not be prosecuted for personal amounts of psychedelics.

The bill would decriminalize “the possession, ingestion, obtaining, growing, giving away without financial gain to natural persons 18 years of age or older, and transportation of no more than two grams of psilocybin, psilocin, dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, and mescaline.”

The bills would amend the state general law’s Section 50: Entheogenic Plants and Fungi.

The bill however does not allow for the sale of psychedelics: “‘Financial gain’ shall mean the receipt of money or other valuable consideration in exchange for the item being shared,” the bill adds.

“Mushrooms are life changing,” James Davis, co-founder of Bay Staters for Natural Medicine, said in a statement. “From depression to addiction to painful cluster headaches, they are a tool that people should use in a caring community.

“There’s no better way to promote intentional and mindful use than to decriminalize minor amounts for home growing and sharing without enabling commercial sale,” Davis added.

“Humans have used psychedelic plants and fungi, non-addictive by their nature, for spiritual relief for more than 13,000 years: from Northern Africa and the Americas—to Greece and the Middle East,” Bay Staters for Natural Medicine states on their website. “President Nixon banned these plants as Schedule One “drugs” through the Federal Controlled Substances Act without scientific basis to purposefully criminalize Black Americans and anti-war protesters. We work to reverse these policies and stop for-profit corporations from monopolizing the facilitation market to needlessly charge desperate people thousands of dollars.”

The statewide move comes after a handful of cities decriminalized psychedelics at the city level. Somerville, Cambridge, Northampton, and Easthampton, for instance, voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other entheogenic plants.

The reasons to decriminalize are growing: The global market for psychedelic drugs including psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD is expected to grow to nearly $12 billion per year before 2030, according to data from a recent market analysis. In a report released last Thursday, Brandessence Market Research revealed that the psychedelic drug market is anticipated to reach a valuation of $11.82 billion by 2029, growing from an estimated $4.87 billion in 2022.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. Belief that psychedelics could help control the opioid epidemic is growing. A 2017 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, involving 44,000 participants, found that psychedelic use was associated with a 40% reduced risk of opioid abuse. A more recent study that suggested an even stronger reduced risk—55%.

Meanwhile, Tryp Therapeutics signed a letter of intent earlier this month with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, to fund and conduct a Phase 2a clinical trial. The team of researchers will be investigating the effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of patients aged 21 and older who are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

More states are moving to loosen laws surrounding psychedelic use for therapeutic purposes. Colorado and Oregon decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms.

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Colorado Psychedelics Decriminalization Takes Effect

Psychedelics including psilocybin are now officially decriminalized in Colorado, where voters decided last month to end criminal penalties for possessing the drugs. Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued a proclamation on Tuesday declaring that Proposition 122, also known as the Natural Medicine Health Act, had passed muster with the voters in last month’s election. 

“Coloradans voted last November and participated in our democracy,” Polis said in a statement from the governor’s office. “Officially validating the results of the citizen and referred initiatives is the next formal step in our work to follow the will of the voters and implement these voter-approved measures.”

In his proclamation, Polis noted that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold had certified on December 12 that Proposition 122 “was approved by a majority of the votes cast.” The ballot measure received more than 53% of the vote in the midterm election, garnering the approval of nearly 1.3 million voters on November 8.

The Natural Medicine Health Act creates a state-regulated therapeutic system for adults to access natural psychedelic medicines, such as psilocybin mushrooms, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline not derived from peyote. The measure decriminalizes the possession, cultivation, and sharing of the naturally occurring psychedelic drugs, and establishes a system for controlled distribution by licensed professionals in a therapeutic setting. 

Psychedelics will be available under the guidance of a licensed and supervised facilitator at designated healing centers and healthcare facilities such as hospice centers. The medicines are prohibited from leaving the facilities, and no retail sales are allowed in any form.

“Prop. 122 puts the wellbeing of patients and communities first, removing harsh criminal penalties for personal possession and employing a multi-phase implementation process that will allow time to develop an appropriate safety and regulatory structure,” Josh Kappel, who co-authored the proposition and led the campaign for the successful ballot measure, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Under Colorado law, ballot measures approved by the voters do not go into effect immediately. The state constitution requires the governor to issue a proclamation declaring the majority vote for the proposition no later than 30 days after the state canvasses the election results. 

Psilocybin And Mental Health

Psychedelics such as psilocybin are receiving renewed interest in the potential of the drugs to treat a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. The Food and Drug Administration has designated psilocybin as a “breakthrough therapy” but has not approved the use of the drug.

Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine released a new study showing that psilocybin can quickly and significantly reduce symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. Prior research from the nation’s top medical research universities including Johns Hopkins University, the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, and New York University have shown positive patient outcomes for depression and anxiety. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has started offering psychedelics to patients as a part of clinical trials.

With the Natural Medicine Health Act now officially Colorado state law, the governor has until January 31, 2023, to appoint 15 members to a new Natural Medicine Advisory Board, which will advise the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies on implementing the measure. The board’s first recommendations are due by September 30, 2023. Recommendations on a facilitator training program for the medical use of psilocybin mandated by the measure are due on January 1, 2023. Regulated access to psilocybin should become available from authorized therapists by late 2024.

Kappel said that with the proclamation from Polis, implementation of Proposition 122 can now begin.

“Our goals include creating an accessible and balanced facilitator training system, an effective equity program, a first-of-its-kind ESG screen, and safe access to natural psychedelic therapies,” Kappel said. “In the meantime, adults in Colorado can begin to have more open and honest conversations about these medicines with their doctors. Adults who can benefit from these substances will finally be able to engage in psychedelic therapies without fear of arrest and prosecution.”

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Exploring Ibogaine – One of the Most Promising Yet Misunderstood Psychedelics 

It’s not considered a “fun” hallucinogen. As a matter of fact, most people have even heard of it. It’s illegal in the United States (and nearly all other countries as well). It’s difficult to get a hold of, and if used improperly, it could kill you. But when it comes to fighting addictions and making pivotal life changes, no other drug in its class seems to compare. The substance in question? Ibogaine.  

Ibogaine sure is an interesting substance, and certainly one worth learning more about. We’re an independent news publication covering topics in the cannabis and psychedelics fields. Follow along by signing up for The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, and make sure you’re first in line for all new product promotions, as they become available.

What is Ibogaine? And what is it used for? 

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive alkaloid found in many different plants, but primarily in the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga, a tropical shrub native to Central Africa. Ibogaine has been used by indigenous people ceremoniously for rite of passage and healing rituals, as well as medicinally to treat a multitude of different conditions. In low doses it can help with fatigue, pain, anxiety, and other day-to-day ailments, while in higher doses it can conjure up life-changing therapeutic breakthroughs in the form of intense psychedelic trips.  

Although most psychedelics are touted as being effective in treating addiction, Ibogaine is one of the most promising. Studies are limited, but a great deal of anecdotal evidence exists in the form of case reports and survey data, with hundreds of people sharing similarly successful stories of their Ibogaine experiences. And thanks to growing interest, human clinical trials for ibogaine and addiction are just on the horizon. In Spain, researchers began testing ibogaine in a small study group of 20 people who were addicted to methadone after trying to kick opioid addictions, and had excellent results. Trials are also underway at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, where researchers will try different doses of ibogaine on 12 different patients suffering from alcoholism.  

For those who find it helpful, the trip seems to go a little something like this: One single dose of Ibogaine launches users into a deep, introspective journey that could be described as similar to lucid dreaming. According to firsthand accounts, users saw the most significant events from throughout their lives laid out in front of them. They were able to “forgive themselves” and “heal past traumas”. It’s said to be particularly effective for eliminating bad habits in general. Opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms disappeared, as did symptoms of alcohol and cocaine abuse. Some people even reported better eating and exercising habits after an Ibogaine trip. One person specifically stated that they developed an aversion to processed foods, sugar, and caffeine, and they were able to quit smoking also. 

Unlike existing pharmaceutical options, Ibogaine actually helps users overcome their addiction completely, rather than replacing it with another drug like buprenorphine and methadone. “Ibogaine seems to resolve these signs of opioid withdrawal by a mechanism that is different from an opioid effect, and I think that is what is so interesting about it,” says Dr. Kenneth Alper, a longtime ibogaine researcher and an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at New York University School of Medicine. 

And perhaps the most promising bit of information thus far, is the fact that these results are long lasting. You don’t need to do regular ibogaine treatments for the rest of your life or risk relapsing. Just one treatment can last anywhere from a few months to many years before people feel the effects wearing off, although some claim the changes are lifelong.  

The reason for this remains a bit of a mystery, but it is not unheard-of for such substances to sort of rewire the brain. Psychedelics can change the structure of nerve cells, making them develop more spines and branches. There’s also some recent evidence suggesting that ibogaine specifically, may boost neurotrophic factors in the brain, which then encourages the growth and plasticity of neurons. But again, this can be said about most psychedelics. So, when it comes to ibogaine, it does seem there is something more happening there.  

Ibogaine throughout history 

The earliest documented use of iboga compounds date back to the early 1800s, when members of the Bwiti religion in Gabon, Africa, would eat iboga bark shavings during various ceremonies to induce visions, and to make contact with deceased ancestors, spirits, and even Gods. The word ‘iboga’ means “to care for” or “to heal” in various tribal dialects of the Congo Basin. In addition to its use as a spiritual sacrament, tribes were also using iboga medicinally to treat pain, surpress hunger and fatigue, and as an aphrodisiac.  

By the 1860s, Ibogaine extracted from iboga bark started to be used in Western medicine as well. According to an article published in the journal Progress in Brain Research, it was effectively treating fever, toothaches, and high blood pressure. In France, it was commonly sold as an antidepressant and stimulant under the name Lambarene. As a matter of fact, Lambarene was available for decades, until the French government banned the sale and possession of ibogaine in the 1960s.  

But just as France was putting an end to the ibogaine industry, this substance was just beginning to make an appearance in the United States. In 1962, then 19-year-old American Howard Lotsof got his first taste of ibogaine. Lotsof, along with a group of friends, all of whom where heroin addicts, inadvertently ingested ibogaine powder thinking it would have stimulant effects. It did not. But what the group of friends discovered after they came down from their ibogaine high, is that none of them were interested in doing heroin anymore. From that day forward, not only did they immediately quit using hard drugs, but Lotsof  went on to become a well-known researcher and advocate for the use of ibogaine in drug treatment therapy.  

In 1991, the National Institute on Drug Abuse sanctioned a small study on ibogaine, using animal models, and found that was in fact useful for treating addiction. When ibogaine was given to addicted rats, it reduced the amount of heroin, morphine, cocaine, and alcohol the animals consumed. Because of these early research successes, the FDA was set approve a series of clinical trials on ibogaine, but due to lack of funding and contract issues, none of these trials ever came to fruition. To this day, there have been no real ibogaine trials completed on humans, although some are in the works. 

Universal Ibogaine  

There is the phrase, “universal ibogaine”, which is incredibly relevant right now considering people are traveling all over the world for access to these treatments. Then there is the company, Universal Ibogaine, Inc., a publicly traded, research and development company focused on building a network of Ibogaine clinics, starting in Canada and expanding globally.  

Looking at the latter, I really want to emphasize that this is a publicly traded, international company that is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It speaks to the level of acceptance we’re seeing in the industry, even regarding the more off beat and unconventional substances. Universal Ibogaine one of the more popular industry startups and unique because they deal exclusively with Ibogaine. They are currently pursuing Health Canada approval to conduct clinical trials on the safety and efficiency of using ibogaine to treat opioid addiction. In 2017, Canada added ibogaine to their Prescription Drug List, making it legal by prescription, although still strictly regulated.  

Ibogaine boasts various levels of legality in other parts of the world. Throughout most of Europe, including the UK, ibogaine is illegal, but it has been decriminalized in Portugal and Demark. In Mexico, where Ibogaine retreats and treatment centers are very popular, one might be surprised to discover that it is in fact illegal there. However, Ibogaine is not regulated in Mexico, so even though it’s not legal, it’s overlooked by law enforcement. Similarly, Ibogaine is not regulated in the Netherlands, and many clinics/treatment centers are available for pharmacological tourists.  

The only country, that I know of, where it is completely legal to possess ibogaine no matter the reason or amount, is Uruguay. But, in that vein, all drugs are legal in Uruguay, so that’s not saying anything particularly special about ibogaine. In New Zealand, Ibogaine is legal to possess with a prescription.  

Meanwhile, in the United States… 

Ibogaine is on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I list (added in 1970 along with LSD), meaning it has no currently accepted medical value, and is believed to have a high potential for abuse and addiction (which is ironic because it’s being used to eliminate addictions to more dangerous drugs that for some reason are less harshly scheduled), and that anyone caught with it could face some type of legal ramifications.  

Despite still being far from mainstream, ibogaine has become a hotter topic of debate in the medical community, because of how effectively it rids patients of their addictions. According to the CDC, just opioids alone kill over 130 Americans daily, then factor in amphetamines, alcohol, and other substances, and we have hundreds of people dying from preventable deaths every single day. There is no understating the need for better treatment options – it’s real and it’s serious.   

As stated above, the US is way behind when it comes to ibogaine research (or most useful drug research for that matter), but there is one place where researchers study ibogaine, and have been doing so since the 1990s, and that’s Miami. For instance, a Florida-based subsidiary of Atai Life Sciences, DemeRx, is currently working on two ibogaine and noribogaine derivatives for opioid dependence. It’s one of the few companies trying to create ibogaine-like medications that still retain the psychoactive effects. Other companies like Massachusetts-based startup Delix Therapeutics and New York based MindMed, are both in the process of developing non-hallucinogenic ibogaine derivatives. 

Mitigating risks 

Ibogaine could certainly be considered a sort of miracle drug for curing addiction, but that’s not to say there are no risks involved. Most psychedelics have pretty good safety profiles, and ibogaine is no different, but there does seem to a somewhat higher risk of certain unwanted side effects and possible death in some groups of people. Those with existing heart conditions or underlying schizophrenia or psychosis are advised to refrain from ibogaine treatments, but that could probably be said for all psychedelics.  

A case report published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, a critical care doctor from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Jeremey B. Richards, outlines a situation in which a 40-year-old male died after using ibogaine for symptoms of heroin withdrawal. In this case, the patient suffered from acute cardiac arrest and cerebral edema which led to his death.   


These scenarios are relatively rare, but frequent enough that it has prompted researchers to explore the possibility of alternative, synthetic versions of ibogaine; ones that could produce the neuroplasticity one would expect from a psychedelic, but without the risk of developing a serious heart condition. Several studies and projects are in the works that aim to develop ‘chemically tweaked’ versions of original psychedelic compounds.  

The success with ibogaine is “a promising first step,” says Gabriela Manzano, a postdoctoral fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York and a co-author of a commentary on the study. “This provides a road map on how we could start tweaking these chemical compounds to make them very useful in the clinic,” she says. “Keep the good parts, get rid of the bad parts.” For decades, psychedelic drugs, including ketamine and psilocybin, have shown promise in treating people with mental health problems including addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

Final thoughts 

Very little is known about psychedelics in general, but this is especially true regarding ibogaine. Likely because it’s not used much recreationally, and by getting people off opioids it also steps on the toes of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s not hard to see why they would be against a natural drug that could, in one single treatment, eliminate years of addiction symptoms in a patient. Afterall, the only way they make money is by making us dependent on their drugs, so don’t expect to see much as far as ibogaine legalizations just yet.  

But regardless of legal status, it’s important to understand the full potential of this compound, because it is substantial. When used under the care of an experienced medical professional, it’s unlikely for one to experience many negative side effects and the possible life-changing outcomes certainly seem to outweigh the alternatives. With addiction rates at an all-time high, the fact that we’re not falling over ourselves to learn more about ibogaine (and all psychedelics, really), is honestly absurd. But sadly, that’s the state of hypocrisy that we live in; a world that sells deadly treatments like oxycontin rather than natural cures like ibogaine.  

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Missouri Bill Would Allow Therapeutic Psychedelic Use

People with serious depression or post-traumatic stress disorder would be permitted to use natural psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin under a bill recently unveiled in the Missouri state legislature. The measure, HB 2850, was introduced in the Missouri House last month by Representative Tony Lovasco.

Under HB 2850, people with treatment-resistant depression, PTSD or a terminal illness would be able to use psychedelic drugs obtained from plants or fungi. The measure would cover the substances dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, mescaline (except peyote), psilocybin, and psilocyn, according to a summary of the legislation. The bill permits patients to acquire natural psychedelic drugs and use them in a health care facility, their residence, or a primary caregiver’s home.

Elaine Brewer, the founder of the Humble Warrior Wellness Center, says that the bill would give people struggling with mental illness a new option for care. As a military wife, she said that she faced extreme depression and anxiety over her husband’s safety, who served in Afghanistan. 

“I was constantly anxious that my family would be the next one to have that knock on the door,” Brewer told the Riverfront Times.

After therapy, yoga, meditation, pharmaceuticals, and other treatment options failed to provide relief, Brewer took a wellness retreat in Mexico, where she tried psilocybin and MDMA for the first time. The effects, she said, were immediate.

“It was like 10 years of therapy in two days,” said Brewer.

But legislators are skeptical of the legislation. At a legislative hearing, many noted that psilocybin is a Schedule 1 federally controlled substance.

“To me, that’s just absurd,” Lovasco said. “When you’re looking at stuff that is clearly demonstrated not to be dangerous, there’s no reason not to let people give it a shot.”

Others said that they thought more research is needed before the therapeutic use of psychedelics is approved.

“As a psychiatrist, I have grave concerns,” said Representative Lisa Thomas. “There are not enough studies, and even many of the studies that have been done in their conclusions acknowledge there’s not enough research, and we don’t know how these interact with other medications.”

Psychedelics Research Continues

The research into psychedelic drugs, however, continues to grow. This week, a team of researchers affiliated with the University of California San Francisco and Imperial College in London published a study that reveals a possible mechanism by which psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin can treat depression and other psychiatric conditions characterized by patterns of fixed thinking.

“The effect seen with psilocybin is consistent across two studies, related to people getting better, and was not seen with a conventional antidepressant,” Robin Carhart-Harris, the study’s lead author, said in a statement from UCSF. “In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we’re seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, which suggests a ‘carry over’ of the acute drug action.”

David Nutt, head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, noted that psilocybin could provide a new avenue of treatment for patients who have not made progress with other drugs.

“For the first time we find that psilocybin works differently from conventional antidepressants—making the brain more flexible and fluid, and less entrenched in the negative thinking patterns associated with depression,” said Nutt. “This supports our initial predictions and confirms psilocybin could be a real alternative approach to depression treatments.”

Ginger Nicol, a practicing psychiatrist and a researcher at Washington University, told Missouri lawmakers that the ongoing research could dramatically change therapy for serious mental illness.

“If the results of the smaller studies that have been done carry through in our larger studies, then it will probably be a revolution in mental health and psychiatric pharmacology,” Nichols said.

As it is written, HB 2850 would only benefit those with treatment-resistant depression or PTSD and those with terminal illnesses, although patients could petition the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to add more conditions.

“The idea here is that you’ve got to start somewhere,” Lovasco responded. “We’re simply saying, ‘Look, if we did decriminalize it in certain quantities in certain conditions in certain circumstances, that opens the door to not only furthering this conversation, but hopefully getting some of that data that a lot of people are looking for.’”

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Health and Mental, which held two hearings on HB 2850. However, the bill is not currently on the House calendar for further action.

“I don’t think it’s super likely to be signed into law this year as it’s a very new issue for Missouri,” said Lovasco. “We definitely gotta start the conversation and work towards something we can get consensus on.”

The post Missouri Bill Would Allow Therapeutic Psychedelic Use appeared first on High Times.

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