Congressman Says Psychedelics Are a Promising Treatment for PTSD

August 18, 2020 13:04:21

It is rare to hear anyone on Capitol Hill talking about psychedelics, but Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has not only changed his stance from being anti-marijuana legalization lawmaker to one in favor of cannabis policy reform and he even said that certain psychedelics show a lot of promise as treatments for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”).

This statement by the Congressman is interesting for a number of reasons. First, Democrats in the House of Representatives heavily voted against an amendment which would have paved the way for research into a number of psychedelics, such as psilocybin and MDMA. Joe Kennedy was one of those lawmakers who voted against that amendment last year. To see him pivot on this issue, the way he turned around and now supports marijuana policy reform, is a little surprising.

Secondly, Rep. Joe Kennedy III wasn’t prompted by anyone to state his position on psychedelic substances. He volunteered that information himself during a virtual event hosted by the Justice Reform Coalition, Norfolk University, the WGBH Forum Network and several Lowell University organizations engaged in advocating for those who have ever been incarcerated.

Kennedy also said that he had observed that trying to use prosecution to fix a problem doesn’t bring any good results, and now is the time to treat people so that they can overcome addiction, mental and behavioral health issues.

Kennedy is currently embroiled in a battle with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in order to win the Democrats’ primaries for the Senate seat. Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted for marijuana legalization a few years ago, and each of the two candidates wants to position himself as the one who changed soonest on matters of marijuana policy reform.

Markey recently scored some major points in this battle for the hearts and minds of pro-reform voters in the state when he commented that he supports marijuana reform when a passerby passed him a blunt on the street.

Kennedy’s remarks about the therapeutic potential of psychedelics may have therefore been calculated to level the score or even shine brighter than Markey.

Since psychedelics haven’t been the subject of debate among the lawmakers in the House of Representatives, it isn’t clear how a vote would pan out if the matter reached the floor of the House. However, public sentiment seems to show that psychedelics are growing in popularity as the success of several local initiatives shows. For example, a psychedelics decriminalization measure just got verified for the Washington, D.C. vote and in Oregon in November. Campaigns are also ongoing in a number of cities and local authorities.

If one were to guess what is on the minds of psychedelics companies like Pure Extracts Corp., it would be something like “these are indeed interesting times for psychedelics.”

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