Sen. John Fetterman offered full-throated support for psychedelics as a form of mental health therapy, bringing the emerging drug reform movement to Capitol Hill.
Fetterman, the junior senator from Pennsylvania, made the comments on Wednesday during Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing, saying he’s “been an advocate of psychedelics in terms of magic mushrooms for PTSD and for veterans especially.”
“I always thought it could be—and maybe I’m wrong—an amazing economic kind of boom for the mushroom [sector],” said Fetterman, as quoted by the website. “I think it could be a revolution in mental health.”
Fetterman, a Democrat who was elected to the United States Senate last year, asked Pietro Farms owner Chris Alonzo, who was testifying at the hearing, if he was “open to thinking of that.”
Alonzo, whose Pennsylvania-based farming cooperative grows white and portobello mushrooms, said his company is “absolutely open.”
“We’re entrepreneurs, but more importantly, we’re trying to create healthy food for the community, for the U.S.,” Alonzo said. “When we look at it, mushroom mycelium goes into products like furniture and soaking up oil—and the nutrition side of mushrooms we got through research through [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] with the mushroom council.”
Fetterman is the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research. Wednesday’s hearing “focused on agricultural and economic issues critical to Pennsylvania, including expanding crop insurance to cover mushroom farmers, advocating research into psychedelic mushrooms for veterans and others with PTSD, combatting spotted lanternflies, and promoting organic farming,” according to a press release from the senator’s office.
“This is an opportunity to decrease risk for our farmers, stabilize our food and supply chains, increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables, and support an important sector of the agriculture industry,” Fetterman said, as quoted in the press release.
Fetterman has long been an advocate of drug reform. In August, while in the thick of a tough Senate campaign, Fetterman called on President Joe Biden to change the country’s draconian prohibition on cannabis.
“It’s long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana,” Fetterman said in a press release at the time. “The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support decriminalizing marijuana.”
A little more than a month later, Biden announced that he was issuing pardons to individuals with federal convictions for marijuana possession, and signaled that he wants cannabis rescheduled under the Controlled Substance Act.
“As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said in his announcement. “Today, I’m taking steps to end our failed approach. Allow me to lay them out.”
The president added: “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”
Fetterman is also a champion of his home state’s biggest cash crop. Pennsylvania is the leading mushroom producer in the United States, and earlier this week, Fetterman and fellow Keystone State senator Bob Casey introduced the Protecting Mushroom Farmers Act, which would require “the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a study on providing crop insurance for mushroom farmers” that would “analyze the effects of threats to production, such as inclement weather and pests uniquely harmful to mushrooms, in addition to farmers’ ability to grow mushrooms and maintain profitability,” according to Medianews Group.