Six lawmakers are calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to lift roadblocks to providing terminally ill patients access to psychedelic medicine.
Specifically, the group of lawmakers requested in their letter that terminal patients have access to therapeutic psilocybin treatments. Part of the argument they presented to the DEA is the fact that 41 states currently have Right to Try (RTT) laws essentially designed to give terminally ill patients access to the most cutting-edge therapies, even if they haven’t been “proven” safe. As opposed to psilocybin where researchers have taken a ‘so far, so good’ view on the data they have access to.
The letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Don Bacon (R-WI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Andy Biggs (R-WI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Dean Philips (D-MN), and Madeleine Dean (D-PA). Blumenauer, who also co-chairs The Cannabis Caucus, led the effort.
Compared to some things distributed under RTT laws that may not end up being as safe as hoped, psychedelics have a track record of efficacy and safety. It’s just that track record hasn’t come in a well-regulated setting for the most part. But when we do talk about it in a more clinical setting, we’re yet to hear about that person that got left in a K-hole and more people have done Ketamine Therapy in LA over the last five years than anywhere. While obviously not the same as psilocybin, it shows the wider track record under that psychedelic umbrella.
“Research demonstrates that psilocybin provides immediate, substantial, and sustained relief from debilitating anxiety and depression in individuals with terminal illnesses,” the lawmakers told DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in the letter. “We strongly believe that our constituents suffering such illnesses should have access to this investigational drug should they decide to pursue such a course of treatment.”
The letter went on to note patients with advanced cancer also can suffer from treatment-resistant anxiety and depression. The lawmakers told the DEA that people living that exact quality of life experience significant reductions in their symptoms, and improvements in mood, “following a single guided session of psilocybin-assisted therapy, with no safety concerns or clinically significant adverse effects.”
The lawmakers also pointed to increases in measures of quality of life, life meaning, death acceptance, and optimism six months after treatment.
“We are excited by this research and the implications it has for our constituents suffering a terminal illness,” the letter read.
The DEA’s stonewalling also has made it difficult to use science to change the public’s perception of psychedelic medicine. In a poll last summer, just over a third of respondents, 35%, said they believed that psychedelics offered medical value. Males between the ages of 18 to 34 were the only demographic that slightly leaned yes on the issue with 53%. Their female counterparts were the closest female age group to supporting the idea at 47%.
But when it comes to those who actually need access to the medicine, they’re very much in favor. Not long after the lawmakers announced their letter, a new study conducted by The Harris Poll and Delic Holdings Corp found that 65% of affected Americans want access to psychedelics for mental health.
The proof of the patients’ call for medical access only bolsters the potion of the lawmakers making the push, regardless of whether the wider population understands the efficacy of psychedelic medicine.
The same thing was seen with cannabis. Its scope of value was seen as very narrow in a medical setting at first. But the years would prove it a very viable treatment for many conditions besides cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma treatment possibilities initially accepted by the public when Proposition 215 passed in 1996.