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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Pushes for Psychedelic Reform
DoubleBlind Mag
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Pushes for Psychedelic Reform

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Pushes for Psychedelic Reform in Congress

The amendment would require the Department of Defense to study the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and MDMA for military service members

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DoubleBlind Mag is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is pushing to add an amendment to a must-pass military bill that would require the Department of Defense to study the therapeutic potential of psilocybin and MDMA for military service members.

The congresswoman recently filed the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would build on a separate provision already attached to the bill in committee that only gives a DOD mandate to research marijuana as an opioid alternative for military members with certain health conditions.

This new amendment is substantively identical to one recently filed by a controversial GOP congressman, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). There are some technical differences between the two, but the intent appears to be the same. Marijuana Moment reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s office for comment on the reasoning behind filing the virtually identical amendment, but a representative was not immediately available.

The original cannabis-focused provision that’s already attached to NDAA for Fiscal Year 2023 also specifies who would be eligible to participate in the marijuana study. It would be limited to service members with post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury or “any other condition involving severe pain.”

Meanwhile, another new bipartisan amendment that’s been filed for NDAA seeks to eliminate the federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, similar to a standalone bill that cleared the House but has yet to advance in the Senate despite significant bipartisan support in the chamber. It appears that lawmakers view the defense bill as the best vehicle to get the reform enacted into law at this point.

Advocates and industry stakeholders are also pleased to see that Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) is again seeking to attach a bipartisan cannabis banking reform legislation as an amendment to the defense bill. This follows congressional leadership agreeing not to include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in a separate, large-scale manufacturing bill that’s being considered by a bicameral conference committee.

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All of the various drug policy proposals must be made in order by the Rules Committee before potentially receiving House floor consideration. That panel will decide which submitted amendments can be cleared at an upcoming meeting that has not yet been scheduled but is expected to happen next week.

When it comes to psychedelics, Ocasio-Cortez took an early interest in reform, twice introducing amendments to appropriations legislation that would have removed a congressional rider that’s viewed as problematic by restricting studies into Schedule I drugs like psilocybin and marijuana.

Gaetz cosponsored that amendment, but it was defeated on the floor on both occasions it was brought up. The longstanding prohibitive language it targeted is once again being included in the relevant funding bill this year—though it remains to be seen if reform-minded lawmakers will file another amendment to remove it this time.

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The Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, also recently approved a separate amendment to NDAA from Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD). The measure concerns cannabis sentencing standards under military code, mandating that the Military Justice Review Panel “develop recommendations specifying appropriate sentencing ranges for offenses involving the use and possession of marijuana.”

This article was originally published on Marijuana Moment.

If you’re looking for peer support during or after a psychedelic experience, contact Fireside Project by calling or texting 6-2FIRESIDE. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for support.
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