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This Week in Psychedelics: Psychedelics in the house, DEA moves to outlaw five tryptamines, and the future of psilocybin ads
Happy Friday, and welcome back to The Microdose. Here's what happened this week in the world of psychedelics:
Psychedelics in the House. With state legislators back in session, some lawmakers have proposed new psychedelics bills. This week, in Utah, Republican representative Brady Brammer introduced House Bill 167, which would create a task force to investigate the use of psychedelics to treat mental illness. In Oklahoma, two Republican representatives submitted psychedelics bills: both proposed studying the science of psychedelics, but House Bill 3414 goes a step further by including a clause that would decriminalize small amounts of psilocybin. Lawmakers in Virginia decided to delay consideration of House Bill 898, which would reduce penalties associated with peyote, ibogaine, and psilocybin. According to Marijuana Moment, the lawmakers will revisit the bill in 2023 “to give the legislature more time to refine it and build support.”
DEA moves to outlaw five tryptamines. The day after the NIH hosted their psychedelics workshop, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced on January 14 a proposal to add five previously unregulated psychedelic tryptamines to the list of Schedule I drugs: 4-OH-DiPT, 5-MeO-aMT, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DET, and DiPT. In a report, the DEA asserted that the drugs “pose a risk to public health due to their hallucinogenic properties.” If the DEA proposal is finalized, these substances would be more difficult to access and study. It could also create trouble for psychedelics company Field Trip; they patented a molecule they call FT-104, which is a prodrug of 4-OH-DiPT.
Graham Pechenik, psychedelic patent attorney and editor-at-large at Psilocybin Alpha, writes that this decision is “questionable and troubling;” that it will hamper research; and that it “indicates how [the DEA] may handle other psychedelic compounds with medical and scientific usefulness going forward.”
There has never been a more exciting – or bewildering – time in the world of psychedelics. Don’t miss a beat.
Ask the users. As psychedelics move into the mainstream of medicine, Riccardo Miceli McMillan argues that we should be listening more to the communities who are already actively using psychedelics. McMillan is a doctor and bioethicist at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia who writes about the phenomenology and medicalization of psychedelics. There’s “a paucity of research which consults psychedelic-using communities” about the future of psychedelic medicalization, McMillan writes in a paper published this week in the journal Medical Humanities. Psychedelics users already know quite a bit about the experience of using these substances — why not tap into their expertise? “While a non-cyclist could speculate for years on what kind of bicycle is best for a particular track, they are destined to miss considerations that an avid cyclist will identify immediately,” he writes.
And, McMillan argues, communities in which psychedelics are already used might have their own concerns about the changes medicalization could bring about — and they have historically not been heard. The history of psychedelics evokes counterculture movements, illicit drug use, and psychosis, which has “led to the testimonies of psychedelic-using communities regarding psychedelic experiences being treated as untrustworthy,” says McMillan. But, he argues, it’s time to include these groups and take their expertise seriously.
Prepare for the psilocybin billboards. As Oregon’s Psilocybin Advisory Board hashes out regulations for the state’s psilocybin roll-out in 2023, five subcommittees are discussing more focused topics within the larger regulatory framework. This week, Harris Bricken’s Psychedelics Law Blog gives an overview of the open questions uncovered by the Psilocybin Advisory Board’s licensing subcommittee regarding the advertisement of psilocybin. Measure 109, which voters approved in November 2020, explicitly gives the Oregon Health Authority the ability to determine advertising rules, but members apparently still disagree on whether advertising covers only psilocybin services, or whether it might cover psilocybin products as well.
The Psychedelic Law Blog says the group has made recommendations for advertising rules. Because Measure 109 allows adults over the age of 21 to receive psilocybin, the subcommittee has decided that minors cannot be targeted by ads. They also determined which advertising formats are permissible; in addition to traditional formats like radio, TV, or social media, “signage” and “other media” are allowed — meaning companies will be able to employ those amazing sign twirlers to stand on intersections, and, my personal favorite: “the wacky wavy inflatable arm tube men frequently used on car lots.”
The tweaking of psychedelics. The Microdose has reported on a variety of drugs in development like Delix-7, which could give patients the benefits of psychedelics while reducing side effects ranging from the unpleasant (vomiting) to the dangerous (cardiac arrest). According to VICE, these new and “improved” formulations are the future. “A cynic might wonder if the ambition to create new molecules, which are much easier to protect as intellectual property, is a consequence of the psychedelic field being dominated by known natural products, which are harder to patent,” writes VICE’s Shayla Love. “But the researchers coming up with these molecules say that their work is necessary — that these molecules will increase the access and scalability of psychedelic-like drugs and treatment.” Love’s piece delves into current efforts by companies like Delix, Field Trip, and Awakn to develop drugs with fewer side effects or shorter, more efficient trip lengths.
Lucid News reviews the process of creating a regulatory structure for Oregon’s psychedelics rollout next year.
Need a primer on the difference between a tryptamine, an ergoline, or phenethylamine? Yale researchers have just published a handy overview paper on the chemistry and behavioral effects of psychedelics in Current Biology.
Psilocybin Alpha released a report reviewing the role of psychedelics in popular culture in 2021, from the popularity of Googling “psilocybin” to Mike Tyson’s public embrace of 5-MeO-DMT.
You’re all caught up! Have a great weekend, and stay tuned on Monday for 5 Questions, our weekly Q&A with a leader in the psychedelics space.
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