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Biden Enacts Defense Bill Mandating Studies on Psychedelics for Military Personnel

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Last week, President Joe Biden signed a defense bill containing provisions to finance trials into the therapeutic potential for psychedelics for military services members in active duty. This came a week after Congress gave its final approval and forwarded the bill to the president’s desk.

The bill requires the defense department to create a process by which military service members with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder could take part in clinical trials involving MDMA, psilocybin, 5-MeO-DMT and ibogaine. This list also includes eligible plant-based alternative treatments.

The U.S. Department of Defense has been given 180 days within which it is required to facilitate this process following the bill’s enactment. The department, which will receive $10 million in funding, is allowed to partner with academic institutions as well as eligible state or federal government agencies to conduct the clinical trials.

The secretary of defense will also need to present a report to legislators within a year of the bill’s enactment, in addition to preparing reports for the next three years. Reports shall include information about participation in the trial as well as the trial findings.

The psychedelics research provisions included in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act were championed by Representative Morgan Luttrell. Representative Dan Crenshaw, who worked with Luttrell and other legislators to campaign for the research provisions in Congress, stated last week that getting the provision enacted through the defense bill was a huge deal. In a post on X, he noted that thousands of service members and veterans knew there might be light at the end of the tunnel for them.

For his part, the president didn’t discuss the issue during negotiations and neither did he specifically give his opinion on the psychedelics provisions when he signed the bill. However, Biden’s younger brother did state earlier in the year that the president had, in private, expressed his openness to psychedelics.

The bill’s signing comes about a year after the president gave his approval to a standalone cannabis research measure.

In other news, the medical marijuana pilot program that was attached to the House defense bill wasn’t included in the conference agreement. The resolution would have required the department of defense to look at the health impacts of cannabis use by service members and veterans who are VA beneficiaries.

In order to qualify for the program, participants would need to be prescribed pain management or be diagnosed with anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. This program could result in studies that complement those that are being undertaken by various entities such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) on mental-health disorders affecting not only military personnel but also other members of society.

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