A new bill introduced in Utah is aiming to create a psychotherapy task force, potentially paving the way for the state to allow psychedelics as psychotherapy drugs to be used to treat specific mental health conditions.
The bill, H.B. 167, was filed with the Utah Legislative General Counsel for its 2022 General Session by its sponsor Republican Representative Brady Brammer on January 17. H.B. 167 proposes the creation of the Mental Illness Psychotherapy Drug Task Force which would research and make recommendations on psychotherapy drugs — defined in this instance as controlled substances that are not currently available for legal use, such as psychedelics — that could assist in treating, managing, or alleviating symptoms of mental illnesses.
Brammer told Truffle Report that he hoped the task force would provide more information on what role psychedelics could play in addressing Utah’s mental health crisis. “The research in this area looks promising, and I want our brightest minds to explore whether it would be helpful to the citizens of Utah,” Brammer said. “[The task force] will explore whether it is safe to prescribe psychedelics and, if so, what guardrails should be in place.”
If the bill is successful, the task force’s duties will include providing recommendations on the types of psychotherapy drugs that could be used to enhance mental health treatments, the appropriate administration and dosage of psychotherapy drugs, the frequency a psychotherapy drug could be used, if any license of credential would be required to administer a psychotherapy drug, and administrator training.
It will also make recommendations on follow-up procedures after the administration of a psychotherapy drug, procedures for tracking data, and the monitoring of any long-term societal impacts following the administration of a psychotherapy drug. The task force’s findings will be presented in a written report to the Health and Human Services Interim Committee by October 31, 2022.
As specified by the bill, the task force will be chaired by the executive director and chief executive officer of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah. It also requires that a number of specialists with relevant medical, legal, and ethical expertise are members of the task force, including a licensed psychiatrist, a licensed psychologist, a representative from the Utah Medical Association, a patient who is knowledgeable about the use of a psychotherapy drug, and a trauma-focused patient.
In a statement to KSL News, Brammer explained that, “Utah has some of the finest researchers in the areas of psychiatry and neurosciences at Huntsman Mental Health Institute. This bill seeks to leverage that expertise along with other experts grappling with mental health to review the research results, and if appropriate, make recommendations on how to safely administer these therapeutics under the care of qualified physicians.”