Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants To Make It Easier To Research Psychedelic Drugs

By Beth Leipholtz 06/10/19

Ocasio-Cortez's new legislation is timely, falling in line with the recent decriminalization of psychedelic drugs in Oakland and Denver.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Some democratic leaders, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are pushing for amendments that would make it easier to research the medical benefits of certain drugs. 

On Friday (June 7), Ocasio-Cortez filed legislation that would eliminate an obstacle that often prevents scientists from being able to study any “medical benefits of psychedelic drugs,” including psilocybin and MDMA.

The obstacle scientists speak of stems from a previous law that doesn’t allow the spending of federal funds for "any activity that promotes the legalization of any drug or other substance in Schedule I" of the Controlled Substances Act, Forbes reports

The possible medical benefits of such drugs stem from psilocybin, also known as "magic mushrooms." According to a summary of Ocasio-Cortez's proposal, psilocybin has "shown promise in end of life therapy and treating PTSD." 

The summary also states that such provisions that are already in place just perpetuate stigma and block research. 

"Academics and scientists report that provisions like this create [stigma] and insurmountable logistical hurdles to researching schedule I drugs," it reads. 

Marijuana is also a Schedule I drug and often those researching it face the same obstacles which have been in place since 1996

“This language has served as a gag rule on government employees discussing the benefits of legalization," said Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We are moving away from the war on drugs—slowly but surely—and language like this belongs in Nancy Reagan’s journal, not in a Democrat bill.”

Rep. Lou Correa is also taking action and filed a separate amendment, Forbes reports. His would block the Department of Education from taking action “to deny or limit any funding or assistance to institutions of higher education." This fear of losing funding, Forbes states, is often the reason that certain educational institutions do not allow students to use medical marijuana on campus.

These amendments are in line with a recent vote in Denver, Colorado, in which a ballot measure was approved to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Additionally, in Oakland, California, the City Council recently voted to decriminalize magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, mescaline and ibogaine.

Both amendments will be reviewed on Monday (June 10) by the House Rules Committee, which will determine whether they will be voted on at a later time. 

Though unknown if the amendments will move forward, Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. James McGovern, has spoken candidly about his view on such amendments. 

“I’m not going to block marijuana amendments like my predecessor has done," he said last year, according to Forbes. "As chairman of the Rules Committee, I’m not going to block marijuana amendments. People ought to bring them to the floor, they should be debated and people ought to vote the way they feel appropriate.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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