AOC, Crenshaw Pass Psychedelics Amendments in Bipartisan Rarity

by | Jul 14, 2022 | News, Policy

On the night of July 12, the House of Representatives passed a pair of amendments to the proposed National Defense Authorization Act for 2023 that work together to accomplish the long-standing objective of veterans’ advocates to officially explore the effectiveness of psychedelics in treating trauma for armed services members. The connected amendments were all the more surprising due to the fact that the two representatives that authored them, arch-conservative Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and self-described democratic socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), come from different sides of the political spectrum.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment added MDMA and psilocybin to the list of substances authorized for an official study on opioid alternatives. Its passage not only signifies the accomplishment of a legislative goal she had been reaching for since her entrance to Congress in 2019 but also marks a major win for libertarians, who have consistently advocated for the measure.

Representative Crenshaw’s amendment addresses the medical research’s funding, as it creates a Pentagon grant program for certain eligible government entities to conduct research and clinical trials on PTSD treatment of active duty service members using psychedelics. 

Crenshaw’s support for the therapy further highlights its continued, unexpected backing by Texas Republicans. In the state’s most recent legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed with Democratic assistance an analogous bill that had been vehemently lobbied for by Texas’s Republican former governor Rick Perry, who’s total conversion to the cause of psychedelics research for veterans was profiled in-depth last month by Texas Monthly.

Unfortunately, this bipartisanship on drug policy between progressives and Texas conservatives has not yet extended to the issue of marijuana. The Texas Democratic Party has put cannabis legalization into its party platform, and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke has proudly campaigned on the plant’s legalization. On the other side, every Texas Republican in the U.S. Congress has voted against the drug’s decriminalization, and Republican governor Greg Abbott still fully resists the idea of introducing recreational marijuana and its tax dollars to Texas.

Still, these two amendments passed by the House represent a rare but welcome alliance between progressives and conservatives. Along with an ever-changing political environment on marijuana, that bipartisan union may very well strengthen in the years to come.

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