As Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) works to enact marijuana reform before the end of Congress, he’s also pushing to promote access to psychedelics that he says hold therapeutic potential.
In a video posted to Twitter on Monday, the senator talked about how psychedelics like psilocybin are strictly controlled under federal law as Schedule I drugs, which places “a lot of limitations” on them.
“But at the same time, we’re having massive breakthroughs in a lot of the research,” he said, noting psilocybin and MDMA specifically “are showing incredible results for helping people with PTSD, with trauma, even with anxiety and depression.”
Booker said that because of prohibition, “drugs that could help people, drugs that could save lives, are being restricted—restricted in their study, restricted in their clinical trials and delayed.”
Booker referenced bipartisan legislation that he and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) filed in July to clarify that federal “Right to Try” (RTT) laws give seriously ill patients access to Schedule I drugs, including marijuana and certain psychedelics.
He said that the intent of the bill is to “open up more avenues to take drugs that are now banned and make them accessible, especially for people that are suffering.”
“We have work to do. I hope that you’ll help me with this,” he said. “The war on drugs, we know, was a failure. It wasn’t a war on drugs. It was a war on people, especially vulnerable people. Well now, we see that some drugs, like certain psychedelics, can help vulnerable people deal with their addiction, their trauma, their anxiety, their depression and more.”
“Let’s make these drugs available for research, study and—ultimately, hopefully—for constructive application.”
While Booker’s bill would make a technical amendment to the text of the existing statute, the primary purpose is to clarify that RTT policy as signed into law by former President Donald Trump already means that patients with terminal health conditions can obtain and use investigational drugs that have undergone clinical trials, even if they’re Schedule I controlled substances.
On a related note, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), another advocate for broad drug policy reform, recently spoke about the therapeutic potential of psychedelics during a congressional committee markup.
He suggested that psychedelics policy should be part of the larger conversation about health care improvements, noting his interest in giving terminally ill patients access to investigative drugs like psilocybin, for example.
At the beginning of this year, Blumenauer led a bipartisan letter requesting that DEA allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution under federal “Right to Try” (RTT) law.
Meanwhile, congressional appropriations leaders have included language in recent spending legislation that urges federal agencies to continue supporting research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.
In July, the House voted in favor of two psychedelics-related amendments to a defense bill, including one that would require a study to investigate psilocybin and MDMA as alternatives to opioids for military service members and another that would authorize the defense secretary to provide grants for studies into several psychedelics for active duty service members with PTSD.
But while advocates are encouraged by these incremental developments amid the national psychedelics decriminalization movement, some lawmakers feel that Congress isn’t keeping pace with the public and the science.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) told Marijuana Moment last month that he’s done his research and believes that natural plants and fungi like psilocybin can be a therapeutic “game changer,” but he said that it’s “embarrassing” how slow other federal lawmakers have been to evolve on the issue.
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