texas-republican-speaks-on-amendment-to-research-psychedelic-military-therapy

While there are surely naysayers on both sides of the table, there are also a number of Republican and Democrat lawmakers speaking up about the potential benefits of psychedelics for mental health treatments. 

Last week, one Republican congressman appeared on a Fox News podcast, Kennedy Saves The World, expressing optimism that the Senate will pass his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—which has already cleared the House. Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw’s proposed changes would allow the secretary of defense to approve grants for research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics of active duty military members with PTSD.

Crenshaw is a veteran himself and said he is “hopeful” and unsure that there is serious opposition to the amendment. However, he does say, “I think there’s a lack of education on this.”

Crenshaw himself wasn’t always the most up to date on the topic himself. He joined the Navy in 2006, on the podcast discussing some of his initial injuries, his off-and-on blindness and ultimate removal of his right eye. Regarding the question of if he had PTSD, Crenshaw said the answer isn’t simple given the varied definitions and classifications of the disorder. 

While he said the year after the explosion, which cost him his eye, was rough just given the life changes, Crenshaw said he hadn’t experienced PTSD personally. 

“Now, there are specific treatment mechanisms in the military that are actually cutting edge for PTSD and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) specifically, but they have very few spots,” he said, citing the month-long commitment and expensive costs involved.

Regarding psychedelic treatments, Crenshaw said, “It’s not like these military doctors are against this, they’re just not legally able to access that kind of care. I think you’ve got some pretty cutting-edge thinkers in a lot of these places, you just need an act of Congress to normalize it legally a little bit more.”

He admitted that he’s only taken a deeper dive into the topic over the last year, catching up with a friend and veteran who had a TBI. The friend declined to drink over dinner and described an ibogaine treatment in Mexico that dramatically changed his life. That same evening, he recounted hearing a near-identical story from another acquaintance who had no connection with his dinner companion.

While Crenshaw hasn’t tried psychedelics himself, he said these serendipitous conversations pushed him to dive deeper into the potential of psychedelic medicine for veterans with PTSD. Crenshaw said he hopes at least one of the amendments will make it through the Senate version of the NDAA.

Crenshaw also refutes the idea that these amendments are aimed at expanding recreational drug use, saying, “These are not enjoyable experiences; they are therapies… The changes within [veterans] were just so obvious and dramatic that you couldn’t ignore something like this.”

The congressman filed a similar amendment to the NDAA last year, though the House Rules Committee didn’t allow it to advance to a floor vote.

Crenshaw’s track record around this topic seems to be relatively narrow in its focus, though. He consistently voted against cannabis and drug policy reform measures in Congress, including two prior amendments introduced by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aimed to remove barriers to research psychedelic benefits.

However, Crenshaw notes his amendment covers more ground. “I think AOC’s was simply psilocybin and MDMA. I added Ibogaine and DMT to that,” Crenshaw said. He also admitted that prior communications and coordination around similar proposals took place through staff members.

“A lot of our base doesn’t want to see us work together,” he said. “I hate that. It’s stupid that that’s the case, but it is.”

 

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