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Bill to legalize psychedelic mushrooms for medical use fails to advance

An Iowa lawmaker who’s been trying to legalize psychedelic mushrooms for medical use got a statehouse hearing on the idea early today, but Representative Jeff Shipley’s bill was defeated in subcommittee on a 0-3 vote. Shipley, a Republican from Fairfield, says psilocybin — the chemical found in so-called “magic” mushrooms — should be legalized as treatment for things like depression, addiction and end of life care.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming out for a great discussion,” Shipley said this morning at the hearing. “I think that we’ve had some powerful testimony that there is indeed some medical value to these substances.”

Todd Mulford of Hampton told lawmakers psilocybin helped him break a decades-long addiction to meth and he’s been sober for five years.

“Without strong plant medicines that naturally occur in nature — effective, beneficial, non-harmful, safe medicine — there’s no way that I can even sustain my sobriety,” Mulford said.

Brent Russell of Ankeny said he suffers from anxiety and went to the Netherlands for treatment with psilocybin, where it’s legal.

“For at least six months after that first use, I could feel this relief off my shoulders. My wife said the same thing,” he said. “I’ve been back a few times to use psilocybin. We can’t do this in Iowa, because it’s illegal.”

Shannon Myers, a certified rehabilitation counselor in the Des Moines area, told lawmakers she is Iowa’s only psychedelic integration provider.

“I’m here to decriminalize nature,” she said.

Myers said psilocybin helped her five years ago after an auto immune reaction that 20 doctors were unable to diagnose and treat.

“I’ve seen it beneficial for those with complex trauma, PTSD…It’s great for smoking, alcohol addiction,” she said. “I don’t even drink anymore. I’m totally sober. I just love being alive and that was from just one interaction.”

Chuck Hurley, a key lobbyist for conservative causes in the legislature, testified at the hearing on his own behalf. Hurley said having been a drug addict himself 40 years ago, he’s open to the discussion and wants to learn more about psilocybin.

“I Timothy 4:4 says, ‘For everything God created is good if it is received with thanksgiving,’ and so I just think there’s got to be a way to use these things that can help people with severe depression,” Hurley said, “without leading to more abuse of it.”

The subcommittee members who defeated the bill all said they wanted to learn more about clinical trials of the drug, but prefer that the state wait until the Food and Drug Administration clears psilocybin for medical use in the United States.

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