A group of hallucinogenic activists has formed a political action committee aimed at lobbying Congress to support research into the therapeutic use of compounds including psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine. The new group, called the Psychiatry PAC, plans to encourage lawmakers to ease restrictions on potent drugs, which have shown promise as potential treatments for mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and addiction.
“With mounting evidence of therapeutic benefits from psychedelic medications, we believe it is time for the American people to take action into their own hands by electing leaders who support policies that expand access to these life-changing therapies,” said Melissa Lavasany, chair and co-founder of the Action Committee. politician, he said in a statement.
The Psychedelic Medicine PAC points to the adoption of psilocybin legalization measures by voters in Oregon and Colorado as evidence that such reform is warranted at the federal level. Group leaders acknowledge, however, that persistent misconceptions about the drug present challenges to progress on this issue.
“We have to convince a historically stubborn audience about psychedelia that it’s not the ’60s,” Ryan Rodgers saidCo-founder and CEO of Psychedelic Medicine PAC.
“People won’t stare at the sun until their eyes pop out. People won’t jump off a building,” he added. “This is about trauma healing. It’s not about entertainment.”
Ongoing research has shown that psilocybin has the potential to be an effective treatment for many serious mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and substance use disorders. a Study published in 2020 In the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry, I found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy was a fast-acting and effective treatment for a group of 24 participants with major depressive disorder. And Separate search The publication in 2016 determined that psilocybin treatment led to a significant and sustained reduction in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer.
Lavasany has personally experienced the benefits of psychedelics after using promising medications for postpartum depression and chronic pain. She led the 2020 campaign to decriminalize edible plants and fungi in Washington, D.C., which passed with 76% approval of district voters. That same year, Oregon voters voted for a ballot initiative to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms.
The leadership of the new PAC believes that before narcotic drugs are legalized at the federal level, some time should be spent educating members of Congress and the executive branch about the therapeutic potential of compounds. Last year, the Biden administration announced that it was considering forming a task force to study psychedelics in anticipation of possible upcoming approval of narcotic-assisted treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“The research approach and the scientifically motivated approach is really the path of least resistance,” said Lavasani. “It’s going to take a little bit longer – it’s a very slow approach and it’s very methodical what we’re trying to do – but it’s a way to ensure people feel comfortable buying into this issue.”
The Psychedelic Medicine PAC is also seeking to forge relationships with politicians on both sides of the aisle, noting that cannabis policy reform activists have had some success with forging consensus. But some of the policies that many cannabis advocates have pushed for, such as social justice and restorative justice provisions, have failed to gain the support of many GOP lawmakers.
“We want to ensure that what we stand for does not create opposition to the cause in the halls of Congress,” said Lavasani. “We saw how some of the strategies that the cannabis reform movement used were really divisive and that really delayed some of the progress. That’s a real lesson we learned.”
One lesson that psychiatric drug policy reform activists have learned is not to advocate for decriminalization and legalization until lawmakers have a better understanding of the drugs’ therapeutic potential.
“If their goal is rescheduling or decriminalization, they’re going to have a very hard time,” advised Dustin Robinson, founder of Iter Investments, a drug venture capital firm. “But if their goal is to create more policy about what happens to the drug in the therapeutic space, the federal government seems very open to that.”
In November 2022, Fired two legislators Drugs in Advanced Clinical Therapeutics (PACT) Congressional Conference to Advocate Research on Psychedelic Drugs. In addition, a bipartisan bill from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. of New Jersey Cory Booker would create a path for drugs including psilocybin to be reclassified as Schedule II drugs instead of the more restrictive Schedule I currently listed under. But activists warn that legalizing the drug will not happen overnight.
“We’re in the hype phase right now,” said Ryan Monivar, director of the Decriminalize California Campaign, a group that advocates for the decriminalization and legalization of plants and fungi in the state. Everything in politics must be taken seriously. It’s not a system designed to move quickly.”