Ayo, what’s good? This is Dan and I’m here to share some dope news with y’all. Four lawmakers just announced on March 7 that they’re bringing back their psychedelic therapy bill, and this time it’s even better than before. Rep. Nancy Mace, Rep. Madeleine Dean, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Rand Paul are the ones behind the Breakthrough Therapies Act, a new bill that would change the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and make it easier for medical patients to get access to substances such as MDMA or psilocybin.
“Breakthrough therapies give us the opportunity to improve the lives of all those suffering from treatment-resistant mental illnesses. It is our duty to make sure veterans have access to every possible treatment option that shows promise, including MDMA- and psilocybin-assisted therapies,” said Mace in a press release. “This legislation will remove the bureaucratic hurdles which have hindered critical research and compassionate use of potentially lifesaving therapies.”
If this bill passes, it would change the CSA’s definition of “currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions” to include “the active ingredients of therapies that receive an FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation or Expanded Access approval.” What does this mean? Well, it would allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to move certain “breakthrough therapies” from Schedule I substances into the less restrictive Schedule II category, making it easier for researchers to study these substances and for eligible patients to access them.
“According to recent studies, certain Schedule I substances such as MDMA and psilocybin could offer major advancements in the treatment of depression, severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction,” said Booker. “This bill will eliminate unreasonably burdensome rules and regulations that delay or prevent researchers from studying these breakthrough mental health treatments, and will provide access to these promising therapies for eligible patients who urgently need care.”
The new version of this bill also includes a section stating that substances that move from Schedule I to Schedule II could be moved back to Schedule I “if the drug no longer has a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions and the Secretary of Health and Human Services recommends that the Attorney General control the drug in schedule I pursuant to subsections.” In other words, if the drug stops being effective or safe for medical use, it could be reclassified back into Schedule I.
Booker and Paul had previously filed a version of this bill back in November 2022, but it didn’t make any progress in the Senate. They’ve also worked together on other legislation related to medical treatments, such as the “Right to Try” law that they introduced last year.
The support for using psychedelics as medicine has been growing in recent years. More than 40 organizations have come out in support of this new bill, including the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition and Reason for Hope. The Australian government also recently announced that it would be rescheduling MDMA and psilocybin so doctors can prescribe them to patients with PTSD or treatment-resistant depression.
Access to MDMA and psilocybin treatments could be especially beneficial for veterans who are struggling with mental health issues. There are other efforts underway right now to study how cannabis could be used to treat PTSD and chronic pain in military veterans as well. Senate Bill 326, also known as the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, would require the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to conduct research into cannabis’ therapeutic value and report its findings to Congress.
All in all, this new bill could be a game-changer for people who don’t have access to traditional treatments for mental health disorders. By making it easier for researchers to study these substances and for patients to access them under certain conditions, we could see some major breakthroughs in treating conditions like depression and PTSD. So let’s hope this bill makes its way through Congress quickly!