President Joe Biden is “very open-minded” about the use of psychedelic medicines to treat addiction, his younger brother says.
During a call-in to “The Michael Smerconish Program” on SiriusXM on Wednesday, Frank Biden spoke about his own interest in psychedelics, which he researched as a recovering alcoholic investigating the root causes of addiction. And he said substances like ketamine, LSD and ayahuasca have shown “magnificent results” in treating mental health conditions like depression that can cause people to drink.
“There’s lots of empirical evidence around it—that trauma is the root cause of all addiction,” he said. “With that said, let’s differentiate between recreational anything and using medicine. And the psychedelic can be considered a medicine.”
Following a conversation with @KirstenGrind on psychedelics and micro-dosing today @SIRIUSXM – Frank Biden brother of @JoeBiden @POTUS called into the show to weigh in – listen: https://t.co/HitDTAvJtB
— Michael Smerconish (@smerconish) June 28, 2023
The reason that psychedelics aren’t readily and legally available for such treatment is “because of an innate prejudice that has been foisted upon us,” especially when the Nixon administration launched a war on drugs vilifying the substances.
The host said that the younger Biden “obviously” has “skin in this game,” without clarifying what he meant by that. And then he asked if he’s “ever shared with your brother what you’ve just shared with my audience?”
“Does he know what your view of the world on this issue?” Smerconish asked.
“Yes,” the younger Biden said.
“And what does he say?” Smerconish pressed.
“He is very open-minded. Put it that way,” Biden said, adding that he didn’t want to get into the specifics of their conversations because they were “brother-to-brother.” But he went on to say that “the question is, is the world, is the U.S., ready for this?”
“My opinion is that we are on the cusp of a consciousness that needs to be brought about to solve a lot of the problems in and around addiction—but, as importantly, to make us aware of the fact that we’re all one people and we’ve got to come together,” Biden said.
Global consciousness shift notwithstanding, it does increasingly appear that the U.S. is on the cusp of a psychedelics policy revolution—with the first states set to begin regulating access to natural plants and fungi like psilocybin and ibogaine and bipartisan congressional lawmakers leading the charge to promote research into psychedelics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already designated psilocybin and MDMA as “breakthrough therapies,” too, and that may pave the path to medicalized access in the near future.
FDA also released first-of-its-kind draft guidance last week on the “unique” considerations that researchers should take into account when studying psychedelics, which the agency says show “initial promise” as potential therapies.
But the president hasn’t publicly weighed in on the topic. His drug policy reform agenda has so far focused on issuing clemency to people with prior marijuana convictions and directing an administrative review into the federal scheduling of cannabis, as well as embracing certain harm reduction strategies when it comes to other drugs.
Marijuana Moment recently asked a top Biden official, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, about the department’s current thinking on psychedelics policy, but he said that he needed to “defer” to the expertise of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has been actively promoting funding opportunities to study the science and laws around psychedelics.
At a Senate committee hearing in May, 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.
Meanwhile, in Congress, a number of psychedelics policy developments have emerged in recent months.
For example, a powerful U.S. Senate panel has called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to explore the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.
On the House side, a congressional committee recently approved a large-scale defense bill that includes GOP-led provisions to create a medical marijuana “pilot program” and require a study into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for active duty military members under the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
About three in five American voters say psychedelics should be legalized for regulated, therapeutic use—and nearly half believe possession should be decriminalized for personal use for any reason—according to a national poll released this month.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Marc Nozell.