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VA Official Highlights Need for Psychedelic Guidance for Veterans

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During a recent webinar, an official of the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that the agency was closely observing psychedelics policy and research as the reform wave continued to sweep across states in the country. Dr. Ilse Wiechers, deputy executive director of the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, offered insights into the VA’s view on psychedelics.

Wiechers stated that the department had been working on plans to progress its policies on psychedelics, revealing that some officials had also held meetings with external and internal stakeholders including agencies funding research on psychedelics. She continued that while the VA wasn’t funding trials into psychedelics at the moment, it was recruiting for future research and also hosting projects on entheogenic plants and fungi on its campuses.

In the meantime, Wiechers highlighted the importance of exercising care when it came to veterans who planned to use or were using psychedelics as part of their treatment. As a general rule, the department advises against the experimental use of psychedelics. The VA has already released clear guidance for clinicians on cannabis, which emphasizes that while healthcare providers can discuss the use of cannabis with veterans, they cannot issue recommendations, even in states with legal medical marijuana programs. The guidance also highlights that veterans who use marijuana will not lose their benefits.

The official was also asked about whether the department would adopt guidelines similar to psychedelic reforms being approved for veterans during the webinar. She responded by explaining that this was inevitable, especially if the department wanted to open up communication between service providers and veterans in the psychedelic space, as it did with medical marijuana use.

Wiechers added that having explicit guidance would also ensure protections for service providers and patients. In addition, Wiechers highlighted the need for rigorous studies to learn more about the harms and benefits of psychedelics.

Another official who also took part in the webinar hosted by Rand Corp.’s Paula Schnurr stated that this was an exciting time in psychedelic research and noted that looking up evidence as a clinician or consumer helped ensure informed choices were made.  Others involved in the webinar include a regulator from the state of Oregon and a veterans’ advocate.

Meanwhile, an Evidence Synthesis Program report by the VA has come to the conclusion that psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA may be useful in the treatment of mental health conditions, including severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Companies such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) are some of the entities conducting promising research on psychedelics, especially with a focus on mental health indications.

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