Connect with us


Biden Signs Defense Bill Requiring Psychedelics Studies Involving Active Duty Military Service Members



President Joe Biden has officially signed a large-scale defense bill that contains provisions to fund clinical trials into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for active duty military service members.

The president signed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on Friday, about a week after Congress approved the final deal and sent it to his desk.

Advocates were encouraged to see that bicameral negotiators agreed to maintain the psychedelics research provisions championed by Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX) that were attached to the House version over the summer.

However, House negotiators receded on a separate section to create a medical cannabis pilot program for veterans. A Senate-passed provision to protect people from being denied security clearances due to past marijuana use was also left out of the final bill.

Now the psychedelics reform has been enacted, requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a process by which service members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury could participate in clinical trials involving psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT.

The list of covered psychedelics was also expanded to broadly include “qualified plant-based alternative therapies.”

DOD will need to facilitate that process within 180 days of enactment. It can partner with eligible federal or state government agencies, as well as academic institutions to carry out the clinical trials, with $10 million in funding.

Under the legislation as enacted, the defense secretary will need to provide lawmakers with a report within one year of the enactment, and every subsequent year for three years, with information about trial findings and participation.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who has worked alongside Luttrell and other lawmakers to champion psychedelics policy reform in Congress, said on Friday that getting the research provision enacted through NDAA is “huge.”

“Thousands of veterans and service members now know there might be light at the end of the tunnel for them,” he said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “While some jackasses from both parties are doing what they always do, and finding reasons to defund our military, just know that there was actual serious work behind the scenes to get some very meaningful things done.”

“Very proud of this one,” Crenshaw said. “God bless our veterans and active duty.”

Biden, for his part, didn’t specifically weigh in on the psychedelics provisions when he signed the NDAA, nor has he generally discussed the issue even as its gained momentum in bipartisan circles.

However, the president’s younger brother said earlier this year that he’s privately expressed openness to psychedelic medicines.

The signing comes about one year after Biden separately gave final approval to a standalone marijuana research bill, a historic first.

Meanwhile, the medical cannabis pilot program section that was attached to the House NDAA under an amendment from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) was not ultimately included in the conference agreement.

The measure would have required DOD to examine the health impacts of marijuana use by veterans and service members who are U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries. To be eligible for the program, the VA participant would have needed to be diagnosed with PTSD, depression or anxiety, or have been prescribed pain management.

The psychedelics and medical cannabis provisions were attached in the Armed Services Committee prior to floor consideration. After that, members filed dozens of other drug policy reform amendments in the lead-up to the chamber passing its version of NDAA. The House Rules Committee, however, blocked the majority of the proposals from receiving floor consideration.

The Senate, meanwhile, had included language in its NDAA bill that would have barred intelligence agencies like the CIA and NSA from denying security clearances to applicants solely due to their past marijuana use. That was attached under a separate measure that had been amended to add the cannabis protection from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

While the conference report notes that the text of that underlying legislation, the Intelligence Authorization Act, was included in the now-approved NDAA, it appears silent on the cannabis provision, which was not included in the final bill.

In September, however, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee passed a standalone bipartisan bill that would prevent the denial of federal employment or security clearances based on a candidate’s past marijuana use.

Other cannabis amendments proposed to the Senate NDAA, such as one from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) to allow medical marijuana use by veterans, did not advance.

Separately, the House also approved psychedelics research reforms from Luttrell and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) that are similar to the NDAA sections as part of fiscal year 2024 appropriations legislation covering DOD. It remains to be seen if the largely duplicative provisions will be adopted in the final spending bill.

Biden Expands Marijuana Pardons With New Proclamation Covering Offenses On Federal Properties

Photo courtesy of Dick Culbert.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.