Maryland to Create State Fund to Provide Free Psychedelics to Vets

Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may have access to a new tool to help mitigate symptoms–for free.

On Monday, a Maryland House of Delegates committee took up a Senate-passed bill to establish a state fund that could be used to provide “cost-free” access to psychedelics like psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine to military veterans suffering from those all-too-common afflictions.

This comes on the tail end of another decision concerning cannabis reform–Maryland legislature voted to place marijuana legalization on the November ballot and gave the governor supplemental legislation outlining the program’s initial guidelines if voters approve the policy shift.

State Fund Bill Officially On The Table

The bill was heard in the House Appropriations Committee, where members heard testimony supporting the reform’s importance. The panel’s deliberation comes only weeks after the Senate unanimously enacted Sen. Sarah Elfreth’s proposal (D).

Senators’ amended psychedelics proposal would create the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Alternative Therapies Fund. However, it’s worth noting that the traumatic brain injury wording was not included in the legislation when it was first submitted.

Reform Desperately Needed For Veterans

Unfortunately, the statistics are grim: 22 veterans commit suicide in the United States every day. We have a lot more work to do to ensure that veterans and heroes returning to our country receive sufficient mental health care.

In the Senate, testimony was heard from a world-renowned scientist who is conducting these experiments and reporting very encouraging findings.

So it is encouraging to see that the proposal addressed by the committee on Monday requires that funds be used to research “the use of alternative therapies for veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.”

Furthermore, it aims to provide eligible veterans with “cost-free access” to psychedelics–making access to therapies even easier for those hardest-hit veterans.

[RELATED READING: Psychedelics & Mental Health]

Psychedelics Funding Framework

The state Department of Health would be compelled to meet with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Sheppard Pratt Hospital, and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on a “periodic” basis.

The partnerships’ goal is to identify the “efficacy of and a means for enhancing access to alternative therapies for treating” PTSD and traumatic brain injury in veterans. They would also hold discussions about “appropriate uses of the fund that enhance the fund’s objective.”

Funding Timeline

By December 1, 2022, the department would have to provide a report to the governor and legislation with “initial findings and suggestions.” Another deadline would be set two years later for findings and recommendations based on studies expressly sponsored by the PTSD fund.

According to the bill language, the suggestions would focus on “budgetary, legislative, or regulatory measures to enhance access to alternative therapies for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.”

The measure requires the governor to allocate $1 million in an annual budget bill for the fund in the 2024 fiscal year.

This proposed funding bill is an exciting new potential resource for veterans suffering from PTSD and TBIs–and it couldn’t come at a more crucial time, with mental health issues at a crisis point in the military. Maryland’s proposal could mean access to life-saving psychedelics for eligible veterans soon.

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