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GOP Congressman Is ‘Hopeful’ His Psychedelic Research Amendment Can Pass The Senate



Last week, a Republican congressman appeared on a Fox News podcast to express cautious optimism that the Senate will green-light his House-passed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which, if enacted, would allow the secretary of defense to approve grants for research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for active duty military members with PTSD.

“I am hopeful. I am not sure there’s serious opposition. I think there’s a lack of education on this,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a military veteran himself, said on the Kennedy Saves the World podcast.

In the interview, the congressman also discussed the random encounters that inspired him to first look into psychedelics, evidence that the substances can alleviate PTSD symptoms and the differences between his own amendment and similar measures put forward by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

Crenshaw noted that he hopes that “at least” one of the amendments will make it through the Senate version of the NDAA “and we can make this law.”

Listen to Crenshaw discuss his psychedelics amendment below:

Crenshaw recounted a series of serendipitous conversations that compelled him to research and take action on the issue.

One evening roughly a year ago, the congressman had dinner with a veteran friend who told him about his positive experiences with ibogaine. Later that same night, he ran into Jonathan Lubecky, the Veterans & Governmental Affairs Liaison for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), in the elevator of his apartment building.

Lubecky told him about his own previous suicide attempts and how psychedelics improved his mental health.

“I was like, how is it that I am getting the story from two different people that don’t know each other? In the same night? I just thought it was strange,” Crenshaw—who says he has not tried psychedelics himself—recalled.

In the podcast interview, Crenshaw referenced a Department Veteran Affairs study showing that MDMA had transformative effects on veterans with PTSD. ”It’s really incredible. So the data is really showing up here,” he said.

He additionally mentioned the growing number of military veterans who have undergone ibogaine treatment in Mexico, with extremely positive results.

“These are not enjoyable experiences, they are therapies,” he pointed out, pushing back on any notion that his effort is about recreational drug use.

“The changes within [veterans] were just so obvious and dramatic that you couldn’t ignore something like this,” he added.

Crenshaw filed a similar amendment for last year’s version of NDAA, but the House Rules Committee did not allow it to advance to a floor vote.

The two-term lawmaker has otherwise consistently voted against marijuana and drug policy reform measures in Congress, including two prior Ocasio-Cortez amendments that were aimed at removing barriers to research on the benefits of psychedelics.

His home state of Texas recently enacted a law to require officials to study the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans.

Crenshaw follows in the footsteps of another high-profile Texas Republican who has recently advocated for veterans’ access to psychedelics. Former governor and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has became a vocal proponent on the issue.

In the podcast interview, Crenshaw acknowledged that both Ocasio-Cortez and Gaetz have introduced similar psychedelics amendments to his own. What distinguishes Crenshaw’s amendment from AOC’s, which was also approved by the House last month? It covers more drugs, the congressman said. “I think AOC’s was simply psilocybin and MDMA. I added Ibogaine and DMT to that,” Crenshaw noted.

With respect to his colleague on the other side of the aisle, Crenshaw admitted that any communications and coordination on the two similar proposals occurred via 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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Photo courtesy of YouTube/Joe Rogan Experience.

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Max Savage Levenson writes about cannabis policy and pop culture from his home in Missoula, Montana. He is the founder of the Montana Cannabis Weekly newsletter. His writing has appeared in outlets including Leafly, Pitchfork, the San Francisco Chronicle, Montana Free Press and more.


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