Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) says that psilocybin mushrooms could represent a “revolution” in mental health treatment and an economic “boon” for his home state of Pennsylvania, which he referred to as the “mushroom capital of the world.”
At a Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing he chaired on Wednesday, the senator said that 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],” he told Pietro Farms owner Chris Alonzo. “I think it could be a revolution in mental health. Are you open to thinking of that?”
Watch the senator discuss psychedelics policy at the hearing, starting around 48:25 into the video below:
“We’re absolutely open. We’re entrepreneurs, but more importantly, we’re trying to create healthy food for the community, for the U.S.,” Alonzo replied. “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.”
“So anything that ties in health benefits, medical benefits, we’re open to looking at,” he said. “Obviously you have to do it within parameters of being secure and safe and and responsible, but we’re open to it.”
Fetterman, who formerly served as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and strongly advocated for marijuana legalization, has previously said that the country should “open up research into psilocybin.”
Open up research into Psilocybin.
We are the mushroom capital of the world.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) June 29, 2021
To that end, bipartisan congressional lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would create a $75 million federal grant program to support research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for certain health conditions among active duty military service members.
The legislation is being sponsored by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who also led a letter to House Appropriations subcommittee leaders earlier this year, urging them to instruct federal health agencies to include active duty military service members in psychedelic studies.
Meanwhile, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently started soliciting proposals for a series of research initiatives meant to explore how psychedelics could be used to treat drug addiction, with plans to provide $1.5 million in funding to support relevant studies.
At a Senate committee hearing last month, NIDA Director Nora Volkow told members that there’s emerging evidence that psychedelics carry “significant potential” as therapeutic treatments for certain mental health conditions, and it’s a topic of “great interest” for researchers.
Last year, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) pushed top federal officials to provide an update on research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, arguing that ongoing federal prohibition has stymied studies.
NIDA responded to the inquiry by saying that federal prohibition makes it more difficult to study the benefits of psychedelics, requiring researchers to jump through additional regulatory hoops. Volkow previously said that she personally hesitates to study Schedule I drugs because of those complications.
The director told Marijuana Moment in 2021 that researchers need to prioritize psychedelics research, as more people are likely to use them as they’re exposed to studies showing the therapeutic potential of the substances.
In March, bipartisan and bicameral congressional lawmakers filed an updated version of a bill to streamline the federal rescheduling of “breakthrough therapies” like psilocybin and MDMA in order to promote research and drug development.