Top Federal Official Touts ‘Significant Potential’ Of Psychedelics At Senate Hearing

May 5, 2023 ·

A top federal health official says there is emerging evidence that psychedelics carry “significant potential” as therapeutic treatments for certain mental health conditions, and it’s a topic of “great interest” for researchers.

At a hearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) asked National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow about the status of the agency’s research into psychedelics.

The NIDA head acknowledged that “psychedelic research effectively was halted for many years” amid cultural stigma and ramped up criminalization under the drug war, but noted that the situation has now changed.

“As the evidence is starting to emerge that shows significant potential in terms of therapeutics for certain conditions like severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder,  and also preliminary research showing benefits for the treatment of addiction,” she said, “we’re actually engaging the scientific community to try to understand how psychedelic drugs can be potentially utilized for the treatment—how they affect the brain, and also how to deploy them in ways that are going to be safe and very effective.”

“This is an area of great interest, and both [the National Institute of Mental Health] and NIDA are partnering in trying to expand and accelerate” the research, Volkow said.

At the hearing, the official also responded to a question from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who asked about “the relationship between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders.”

Volkow replied that the agency is “very concerned” about frequent use of high-THC cannabis products, saying that “we need to understand what may be consequences or not of the use of cannabis.”

When it comes to psychedelics, Schatz and Volkow have both expressed interest in expanding research as more states have started to pursue reform, with an eye toward discovering therapeutic uses for substances like psilocybin and MDMA.

Last year, Schatz and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) pushed top federal officials to provide an update on research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, arguing that ongoing federal prohibition has stymied studies.

NIDA and NIMH responded to the inquiry by saying that federal prohibition makes it more difficult to study the benefits of psychedelics, requiring researchers to jump through additional regulatory hoops. Volkow previously said that she personally hesitates to study Schedule I drugs because of those complications.

The director told Marijuana Moment in 2021 that researchers need to prioritize psychedelics research, as more people are likely to use them as they’re exposed to studies showing the therapeutic potential of the substances.

Congress has started to take notice of psychedelics policy amid renewed research and reform efforts. In March, for example, bipartisan and bicameral congressional lawmakers filed an updated version of a bill to streamline the federal rescheduling of “breakthrough therapies” like psilocybin and MDMA in order to promote research and drug development.

Booker, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) also led a separate bill last year that was designed to clarify that federal “Right to Try” (RTT) laws give seriously ill patients access to Schedule I drugs, including marijuana and psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. It was not enacted by the end of the session, however.

The introduction of the bipartisan psychedelics bill this session roughly coincided with the re-launch of a congressional caucus focused on promoting research into the therapeutic potential of entheogenic substances.

At the state level, lawmakers across the U.S. have filed and advanced psychedelics legislation, largely focusing on promoting research.

Oregon officials have started issuing psilocybin licenses as the state prepared to open centers where people can receive the psychedelic treatment at regulated facilities.

Also, Colorado’s legislature has sent a bill to the governor that would enact regulations for psychedelics legalization following voter approval of a historic ballot initiative last year. (Full Story)

In category:Uncategorized
Next Post

International Outrage Continues After Singapore Executed Man for Cannabis Trafficking

Singapore just executed a man for cannabis—and for just one kilo. Even worse, the trial appears not to have even met basic standards for fairness. This outrage comes just as neighboring Malaysia is finally following through on pledges to limit…
Previous Post

Cannabis Retailers Can Expect 'Massive' Sales Day on 4/20

Social consumption is also on the rise. The unofficial cannabis holiday of April 20 – better known as 4/20 – is tomorrow, and retailers should be prepared for a “massive” sales day, according to tech firms that have tracked sales…
Random Post

Minor cannabinoids making major inroads targeting specific medical conditions

New information and research about minor cannabinoids – among the 100-200 that have been identified – is helping treat different health and wellness conditions and allowing cannabis companies to sell a wider variety of products. The products go beyond the…
Random Post

Colombia Senate Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill, Sending It To A Floor Vote Next

A Colombian Senate committee has approved a bill to legalize marijuana, sending it the full chamber for consideration. The legislation—which has already moved through committee and on the floor in the Chamber of Representatives in recent months—cleared the First Committee of the…
Random Post

How a NY Cannabis Insider experiment led to statewide policy change

NY Cannabis Insider bought the eight highest-potency strains of legal recreational cannabis available in New York State on Feb. 24, drove them straight to a state-certified laboratory, placed them in anonymized Ziploc bags and submitted them for potency testing. What came back…
Random Post

Ditch Weed for Shrooms? - Israeli Startups Shifiting Gears to Psychedelic Research and Monetization

What The Israelis Are Currently Studying In The Psychedelic Field For several decades now, Israel has been a global leader when it comes to scientific marijuana research. It was also Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, who was responsible for first isolating THC…