Psychedelics reform is uniting even the most unlikely allies: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Dan Crenshaw (TX-02) are making some progress despite a few setbacks in House committees.
“This is a real wild coalition,” Crenshaw said, Fox News reports. Ocasio-Cortez, aka AOC—the youngest woman to serve in Congress and a progressive firebrand—and Crenshaw—former Navy SEAL and conservative voice—both have pushed for similar psychedelic provisions in the past despite agreeing on little else on the political spectrum.
Friday the House Rules Committee advanced the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with psychedelics research language previously attached in the House Armed Services Committee, however voted to block floor consideration of an amendment to expand provisions and restore original language which was whittled down.
Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Crenshaw hosted a press conference on July 13, recognizing progress with a provision in the NDAA that directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a clinical report on psychedelic treatment in military treatment facilities. The two were joined by Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) at the press conference.
Crenshaw first voted against the provision in the NDAA on the floor to protest the Rules Committee blocking his amendment, but he swapped his vote to a “yes” vote after the stipulation from leadership that they would try to restore his original language.
Early research shows promising results for the use of psychedelics in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), among other conditions. In previous years, both representatives have separately introduced amendments to the NDAA to allow for the medical study of psychedelics. This year, a version of their amendment language was included in the original bill text for the NDAA.
Psychedelics Research Looks Promising
“Psychedelics have shown so much promise,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We desperately need the resources to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and depression. At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”
The need for novel treatments to tackle PTSD and other conditions is growing.
New York Daily News reports that PTSD is now double for Iraq and Afghanistan vets, compared to what it was for Vietnam vets, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that more than 450,000 U.S. war fighters suffered TBI from 2000 to 2021.
Crenshaw said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will support the amendments and said they will get added when the Senate and House meet to iron out the differences between the defense bills.
For the Congressman, the reasons are personal: Crenshaw lost his eye when a D.I.Y. explosive nearly took him out while serving a tour in Afghanistan.
The psychedelics portion of the bill was previously attached to the House Armed Services Committee bill, and it would call on the Defense Secretary to launch a clinical study into the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine, or DMT.
The original amendment would increase funding for clinical trials on the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics for military members with PTSD, TBI, or CTE. However, the amendment was modified to remove key language around funding and clinical trials, making it less effective.
The House Rules Committee, however, rejected an amendment that would have restored the original language of the amendment.
“I know the power of this community to rise up and make itself heard,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
The original language of the legislation could be restored when the NDAA amendments go before negotiations with the Senate.