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Minnesota is in the process of assembling a government task force dedicated to exploring the potential legalization of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin and ibogaine. Despite the process being behind schedule, the lawmaker who advocated for the creation of the task force, Rep. Andy Smith (D), is not overly concerned about the delays.

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz (D) in May, was part of a larger health and human services package. The Psychedelic Medicine Task Force is tasked with advising lawmakers on the legal, medical, and policy implications of legalizing psychedelic medicine in the state. Currently, 20 out of the 24 positions on the task force have been filled, with some key roles still vacant. The task force also missed its initial meeting deadline, which was set for August 1. Despite these setbacks, the Minnesota Department of Health is optimistic about the progress, with spokesperson Scott Smith stating that they are in the process of hiring staff to support the task force’s work.

The task force’s first meeting is now slated for early fall, with an initial report of findings planned to be submitted to the legislature by February 1, 2024. The task force will review existing scientific studies on the therapeutic efficacy of psychedelic medicine in treating mental health conditions and develop a plan to address necessary statutory changes for legalization.

Rep. Andy Smith, who sponsored the bill to create the task force and was appointed to serve on it, plans to introduce psychedelics regulations legislation following the 2024 election. He hopes that the resulting bill will prioritize criminal justice reform and leverage the experience of tribal communities with certain psychedelic substances. The remaining vacant appointments for the task force include a designee from the governor, a health commissioner designee, and two tribal representatives. Other appointed lawmakers include Sens. Kelly Morrison (D) and Julia Coleman (R), and Rep. Nolan West (R). Sen. Kelly Morrison, who carried the psychedelics legislation in her chamber, sees potential in psychedelic medicine as a revolutionary treatment for PTSD, particularly for first responders. In addition to the task force, the state of Minnesota has also posted a job listing for a “Temporary Psychedelic Medicine Advisory Taskforce Planner,” indicating a commitment to implementing the law.

The original legislation proposed by Smith would have required the task force to examine a wider range of substances, but it was amended to focus solely on psilocybin, MDMA, and LSD. In related news, Minnesota has recently decriminalized the possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis for adults 21 and older. The state also legalized drug paraphernalia possession, syringe services, controlled substances residue, and testing. The omnibus bill signed by the governor also included provisions to establish safe drug consumption sites.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.