On the steps of the state capitol building in Frankfort on May 31, the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission (KYOAAC) announced the launch of a new state-funded program that would aim to help stem the damage and destruction wrought by the ongoing opioid crisis that has devastated the lives of millions and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. But the new initiative wasn’t simply to throw more money and resources into tried-and-true public health programs.
Instead, the commission announced it was going to explore allocating tens of millions of dollars toward studying and promoting the use of the controversial, plant-based hallucinogen ibogaine in psychedelic-assisted therapy to combat the opioid crisis, as well as treat a host of other mental health issues. The goal is to make Kentucky the first state in the nation to pursue a clinical program around ibogaine—currently legal only in Mexico and New Zealand.
“This administration recognizes that the opioid epidemic is one of the most tragic and visible symptoms of spiritual affliction which pervades our society,” Bryan Hubbard, chairman and executive director of KYOCC, told The Daily Beast. “We must do better. We must explore every possible avenue which holds the potential for improvement.”
The news was lauded by advocates of psychedelic-assisted therapy, an increasingly popular form of mental health treatment.
“With yesterday’s announcement, Kentucky is taking a bold leadership role to addressing the opioid epidemic,” Jesse MacLachalan, state policy and advocacy coordinator for Reason For Hope, a psychedelic therapy advocacy nonprofit, told The Daily Beast. “This is a prudent and measured approach to explore innovative solutions to the greatest addiction crisis our country has experienced in its history. We applaud the Bluegrass State for the example they are setting for states across the country.”
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