Old school politics meet new science
“And so I am part of the problem that I have been trying to solve since then…” – Joe Biden, 2008.
President Joe Biden’s stance in the ‘war on drugs’ has irrefutably been less than stellar. But his stance appears to be evolving with the times.
- Biden ran on a platform of progressive criminal justice reform.
- There are now more jobs in the cannabis industry than coal mining.
- Psychedelics may be key to effectively address the mental health and addiction crisis, which have increased as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing.
- More than half of participants in a 2019 study on PTSD no longer have symptoms after just 2 doses of MDMA.
- Several studies have shown psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin have promising results in treating alcoholism.
- Biden is an old-school career politician instrumental in the creation of toughened laws, such as the RAVE Act of 2003.
- Even with major progress and evidence in the cannabis industry, there’s still a lack of legitimate banking opportunities.
The new presidential administration will be presented with modern-day facts. According to the Controlled Substances Act, “once a state finds there’s a medical use for a Schedule I substance, they have to hold a hearing before an administrative law judge and hear witnesses and review evidence,” says Noah Potter of New Yorkers for Mental Health Alternatives.
No matter which side of the aisle they’re on, career politicians tend to change their stances rapidly and dramatically to align with popular opinion. With mounting evidence of therapeutic applications and job creation, the nation’s health and economic benefits are poised to motivate progressive change in congress.
Comprehensive New Bills Introduced
Modeled after Oregon’s successful ballot measures, reform bill SB 519 was introduced on Thursday in California. Senator Scott Wiener – who sponsored the bill – aims to decriminalize the personal use of psychedelic drugs for users over the age of 21.
Proposed measures will regulate and advance the therapeutic use of these drugs. The bill states that “planting, cultivating, harvesting, or processing of [psychedelic] plants shall not be a violation of local law.” There’s no scheduled date for hearing just yet.
What’s in the bill?
- Permits the personal cultivation and possession of psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ketamine, MDMA, mescaline, and ibogaine.
- Permits “giving away” of certain psychedelics so long as no financial transaction, or sale, is part of the social interaction.
- End to all criminal penalties for possession of these drugs. They will also expunge all prior criminal records for such charges.
- Legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy.
- Possession by people aged under 21, and on school grounds, will remain illegal.
In an interview with The Guardian, Wiener said that “People should not be going to jail for possessing or using drugs. It’s a health issue, not a criminal issue, and I hope that we get all the way there.”
City-level decriminalization so far: Oakland, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, Washington, DC, Ann Arbor, MI, and Denver, CO.
Preparing the Next Generation of Mental Health Professionals
An explosive call for education in the mental health community has been answered by a private company from Alberta, Canada. ATMA Journey Centers stepped up to the plate with a training program for mental health professionals interested in psychedelic-assisted therapy.
The innovative ‘Psychedelic Therapy Training Program’ was developed in conjunction with Wayfound Mental Health Group. And they’ve enlisted none other than Dr. Rick Doblin, Founder and Executive Director of MAPS, as one of several confirmed instructors.
- The programs will equip a new generation of mental health professionals with the knowledge and insight to work with psychedelic medicines – as they become legal and accessible in Canada.
- The first of numerous trainings offered this year will commence in March, and is almost at capacity.
- Classes will take place in what’s being referred to as a “world-class facility of instructors and practitioners that represent many of the leaders in the global psychedelic medicine community.”
You may know ATMA as the first private company in Canada to conduct legal psychedelic-assisted therapy with psilocybin. This giant step was made possible in 2020 after the passing of exemptions under subsection 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
With this exemption, Health Canada allows individuals to purchase, possess and use a specified quantity of the controlled substance for research purposes, patients facing complex or terminal illnesses.
Ready to enroll: ATMA is still accepting applications for this program.
An emergency off-switch for ‘bad trips’?
MindMed (NEO:MMED) doesn’t want your trip to take a wrong turn into unexpected territory. And if it does, they want to develop the first safe solution to remain in control of your experience.
A new study aims to neutralize LSD – and possibly other psychedelics – by the administration of ketanserin. Its intended purpose: to shorten, or completely halt, the patient’s acute response during a therapy session.
This new tool could be utilized at any point in the experience by either patient or therapist in attendance. Scientists at the University Hospital Basel’s Liechti Lab will be the brains behind this study.
The science behind it
- Ketanserin is an antihypertensive agent that may prove to act as a competitive antagonist on the 5-HT2A of the brain’s serotonin system against the unwanted effects of psychedelic therapy.
- The collaboration is currently in Phase 1 of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, random-order 2-period crossover design clinical trial evaluating the effects in healthy subjects after LSD administration.
- The study is being conducted at the University Hospital Basel Liechti Lab in Switzerland, with an expected date of completion by end of 2021.
- MindMed is actively pursuing the development of LSD-assisted therapies through its Project Lucy, including a Phase 2b trial for anxiety disorders.
If proven effective, MindMed may hold the key to providing a therapeutic setting where the experience remains controlled, and safety is ensured throughout the patient’s trip.
Bionomics and ATAI’s EmpathBio will collectively explore MDMA treatments for PTSD,
Hawaii’s Emotional Intelligence Ventures (EI.ventures) is launching into several psychedelic medicine options.
Philly’s USciences partners with Compass Pathways for a futuristic psychedelic nexus research center.
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