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Minneapolis Mayor: Ease Up on Psychedelics Enforcement

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey intends to issue an executive order Friday that will instruct Minneapolis police to designate natural psychedelics as their lowest enforcement priority, the New York Times reports. The order makes clear that people could still be charged for distributing them in schools or for driving under their influence. Frey’s order noted that people are increasingly looking to such substances to improve their mental health. Efforts to decriminalize and expand access to psychedelics have received some bipartisan support in Minnesota and elsewhere, including Congress. Frey said he hoped the order would contribute to a national rethinking of drug laws. “We have a mass proliferation of deaths of despair,” he said, citing the nation’s high rates of suicide and opioid abuse. “This is something that is known to help.”

Psychedelics, a class of psychoactive substances that alter mood and perception, have long been illegal. But leading psychiatrists have come to see them as potential game changers in the treatment of some mental health problems. In May, a bipartisan group of Minnesota state lawmakers created a task force that will present a detailed proposal for legalizing medicinal psychedelics. Yet the growing field alarms some medical professionals and federal health officials, who say that the benefits of psychedelics are being overstated and their risks downplayed. “Even if these drugs are efficacious for some individuals or for some diagnoses, their unregulated use might mean that people who would actually benefit from some other therapies may be going down a route that doesn’t work for them and could even be harmful,” said Dr. Joshua Gordon, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Others have advocated for removing psychedelics from strictly clinical settings. “Not everyone is going to be exploring these things in the traditional Western medical model,” said Jessica Nielson, a neurobiologist and data scientist at the University of Minnesota. “I think that would be restrictive.”


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