United States legislators are continuing to present bills to congress that would change research regulations for scheduled substances that have been shown to possess valuable medical properties.
United States Senator, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced a bill on Thursday that would improve access to psilocybin and MDMA and promote continued research on the substances.
Bill S.5123 was introduced in the U.S. Senate during its last meeting and has now made its way to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.
The Breakthrough Therapies Act would reclassify the drugs from Schedule I to Schedule II and facilitate access for research purposes and for patients with some mental health disorders.
The bill could potentially help to facilitate the roll-out of psychedelic-assisted therapies through FDA-approved expanded access pilot programs.
Currently, the substances are classified as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act despite their positive life-altering potential for individuals suffering from conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, anxiety or substance abuse disorders.
Studies suggest some Schedule I substances such as MDMA & psilocybin could serve as potential lifesaving drugs. My bill would remove regulatory red tape that impedes researchers from studying & patients from accessing these potential drugs. https://t.co/z34NSR5L7h
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) November 18, 2022
“Recent studies suggest that some Schedule I substances such as MDMA and psilocybin could represent an enormous advancement for the treatment of severe post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and addiction,” said Senator Booker.
“Unfortunately, regulatory red tape and a series of bureaucratic hurdles involved in studying Schedule I substances impedes critical research on these and other promising Schedule I compounds.”
Booker added that the bill would reduce unreasonable regulations and rules which inhibit researchers from investigating the psychedelics and prevent patients from having access to an entire class of efficacious medicines.
Bill receives praise and support from Veterans
The introduction of the new bill inspired a long letter addressed to members of congress from Martin R. Steele, a retired Lieutenant General from the U.S. Marine Corps and CEO of Reason for Hope; and Brett M. Waters, the Executive Director of the organization.
Reason for Hope (RFH) is a “Veteran mental health leadership coalition,” concerned with improved access to psychedelic therapies. The letter from RFH is essentially a plea to congress to support the Breakthrough Therapies Act for the sake of Veterans in particular, but also for the mental well-being of all American citizens.
The letter also discusses the tremendous healing potential of psychedelic substances like ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT and the positive impact they have had on many Veterans.
“We urge Congress to swiftly pass the Breakthrough Therapies Act, which responsibly reduces the barriers to research and limited access of potentially life-saving treatments like MDMA and psilocybin-assisted therapy,” said Steele.
“Veterans should not be forced (nor should anyone else) to leave the country – at great expense – to access breakthrough therapies that can be safely provided and further studied in real-world settings here at home.”
Steele added that the Breakthrough Therapies act would ensure that Veterans receive the treatments they deserve from the country they have served.
The Special Operations Association of America — a Veterans non-profit organization advocating for the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community in the U.S. — also voiced its approval of the new bill, discussed the suicide epidemic among Veterans and emphasized the desperate need for more impactful mental health treatments.
“Further, the ‘Breakthrough Therapies Act’ will personally serve SOF Veterans who are in need of acute medical assistance due to post-traumatic stress, a traumatic brain injury, or struggles with suicidality, and will ensure they receive the care they deserve from the nation they fought for,” says the letter from the organization.