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Top Federal Drug Agency Cites Marijuana And Psychedelics Research Efforts To Justify Congressional Funding



A top federal drug agency is promoting its efforts to support studies into psychedelics, cannabis and harm reduction programs that it says helps to justify funding levels proposed under the president’s new budget plan.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—which would be renamed the National Institute on Drugs and Addiction under President Joe Biden’s 2025 Fiscal Year budget request—published an overview of various initiatives that would be expanded in the coming year.

On psychedelics, NIDA said that it is tracking “changing attitudes,” and supporting research to “better understand the effects of psychedelic drugs, their potential for treating [substance use disorder], and the impact of shifting policies in this area.”

“NIDA is increasing support for therapies using psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin (from ‘magic mushrooms’) and dissociative drugs, such as ketamine,” it said. “While these substances carry risk, there is evidence that when used in clinical settings in combination with psychotherapy, they can help people recover from” substance use disorders.

It also noted that its Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences (DTMC) is actively carrying out a “large randomized controlled trial” into the efficacy of psilocybin, coupled with psychotherapy, in smoking cessation.

NIDA additionally touted the recent creation of a “cannabis registry” that it says will “capture data on cannabis product use and health outcomes, and conduct testing on products associated with adverse outcomes.”

Research into marijuana could also be bolstered if the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) accepts a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

In the meantime, bipartisan lawmakers are demanding answers from both DEA and HHS on what they described as “unacceptable” research barriers that continue to delay cannabis studies, despite the enactment of their legislation to streamline the process in 2022.

NIDA’s new budget document also emphasizes that it considers harm reduction a “pillar” of its federal overdose prevention strategy, and it is supporting research to investigate the public health impacts of “naloxone distribution, syringe services programs (SSP), and tools such as fentanyl test strips (FTS) for checking whether drugs contain fentanyl.”

A harm reduction research network that was created in 2022 will also continue to support “testing new harm reduction strategies, evaluating new ways to deliver existing strategies, and reaching underserved populations,” it said.

Biden’s overall budget plan that was released on Monday also proposes to maintain a controversial provision prohibiting Washington, D.C. from using its local tax dollars to legalize cannabis sales.

In good news for advocates, however, it once again proposes to keep in place a longstanding rider preventing the Justice Department from using its funds to interfere in the implementation of state-level medical cannabis programs.

That latter policy was also included in an appropriations package for the current fiscal year that the president signed into law last week. It also contains language on studying state marijuana regulatory frameworks in preparation for eventual federal legalization.

VP Harris To Meet With Marijuana Pardon Recipients At White House This Week As Biden Leans Into Issue Ahead Of Election

Image element courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.

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