A Republican congressman, Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who’s voted against modest measures to loosen barriers on psychedelic research in the past, has come around on the issue after a discussion with advocates as well as military veterans who utilized the substances therapeutically. He now says the treatment “sounds amazing.” Interestingly enough, he voted against a measure to eliminate barriers to studies on psychedelics just days after making the most recent supportive remarks. Representative Crenshaw, a veteran himself, moderated a conversation with Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Founder Rick Doblin and Jon Lubecky, a veteran who’s participated in clinical trials on the efficacy of MDMA in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Amidst the 20-minute chat at the event at Rice University in Houston, the congressman asked questions about why MDMA therapy appears to be more effectual as opposed to traditional therapies and what the experience of taking psychedelics for therapeutic purposes feels like. Lubecky, who does government relations work for MAPS, said, “It feels like doing therapy while being hugged by everyone in the world who loves you in a bathtub full of puppies licking your face.” He said he credited MDMA therapy, facilitated by the organization, for saving him from multiple suicide attempts.
Crenshaw said the veteran’s description of psychedelic therapy “sounds amazing.” The congressman also shared a story from a Marine veteran friend with traumatic brain injuries who said psychedelic treatments “had changed his life.” However, the congressman claimed that he only became aware of all of this “six months ago” despite having voted against amendments to appropriations legislation from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that was specifically meant to promote studies into the medical value of psychedelics – first in 2019 and again last month.
The most recent vote against the psychedelics legislation came out just four days after the Houston event, at which he seemed to imply that he understood the therapy’s potential. At the event, Crenshaw asked Doblin what the “barriers” to psychedelic research are. He continued, “Because there is a stigma associated with psychedelics. What are the barriers that need to be solved here? How do you overcome a stigma?” There was no mention of Crenshaw’s previous votes against the amendments that were designed to terminate a key barrier that has perpetuated that stigmatization.
Doblin said, “it’s a multifaceted issue, but the federal war on drugs is a principal problem.” He went on to say, “[Criminalization] has led to people thinking, ‘yes, these are illegal drugs also and they’ve got no beneficial uses,’ and then there’s been a resistance to permitting the research that shows benefits from these illegal drugs for the concern that that will send the wrong message.” His recent statements supporting further studies into psychedelics such as MDMA muddies the political waters as to how the GOP looks at amendments that land on their desk before coming to a decision.