The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, also known as H.R.2670, is a critical piece of legislation that outlines the budget and expenditures for the United States Department of Defense. However, this year’s bill includes something new – funding for psychedelics trials for active duty veterans.
This provision has garnered significant attention as it seeks to explore alternative therapies for mental health disorders among military service members and veterans. With the increasing interest in psychedelics as a potential treatment for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, this inclusion in the defense bill is a significant step forward.
The provision for psychedelics trials was championed by Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX), a former Navy SEAL who has had first and experiential knowledge of the mental health challenges faced by service members.
Military service members and veterans face unique challenges when it comes to mental health. The stress and trauma of combat, multiple deployments, and other factors can contribute to the development of conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. According to a 2019 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an average of 17 U.S. military veterans die by suicide every day. This sobering statistic highlights the pressing need for effective mental health treatments for those who have served their country.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in alternative therapies for mental health disorders, including psychedelics such as MDMA and psilocybin. These substances have shown promising results in clinical trials for treating conditions such as PTSD and depression. As more research is conducted, the potential benefits of psychedelics for mental health treatment are becoming increasingly evident.
Provisions in the Defense Bill Related To Psychedelics
The defense bill includes specific provisions related to psychedelics, highlighting the growing interest in alternative therapies for mental health disorders among military service members and veterans. One key provision is the requirement for the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a process that allows service members to participate in clinical trials exploring psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT. This is a significant step towards providing access to these potentially life-changing treatments for those who have served.
Furthermore, the list of covered psychedelics has been expanded to include substances such as MDMA and psilocybin. Additionally, $10 million in funding has been allocated specifically for psychedelics trials, allowing for more comprehensive and rigorous research into their potential benefits. These provisions signal a shift towards a more progressive and holistic approach to mental health treatment within the military.
“I was honored to see several of my amendments and priorities accepted into the final version of the bill, including clinical trials on psychedelic therapy to treat PTSD, support for TBI research, and other key provisions that will ensure a safer, stronger United States. This legislation will ensure America can face security challenges with lethality and readiness,” said Congressman Luttrell in a press release.
In addition to the aforementioned provisions, the defense bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to provide annual reports to Congress on the progress and findings of the psychedelics trials. This will allow lawmakers to stay informed about any potential benefits or drawbacks of these alternative therapies for military service members and veterans.
The first report is due within one year of the bill’s enactment, with subsequent reports to be delivered every year for three years. This reporting requirement highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in this groundbreaking research. By staying informed about trial findings and participation, lawmakers can make informed decisions about future funding and policies related to psychedelics in the military.
Unfortunately, despite the progress made with regards to psychedelics trials, one important provision did not make it into the final version of the defense bill – a pilot program for medical cannabis. This section, attached to the House NDAA under an amendment from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), would have allowed military service members and veterans access to medical cannabis as a potential treatment for health conditions.
The inclusion of provisions for psychedelics trials in the defense bill is a major step forward for both veterans and the field of mental health treatment. The passing of this bill by both the Senate and House demonstrates a growing recognition of the potential benefits of alternative therapies such as psychedelics for treating mental health disorders among service members. As this bill now goes to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law, we can hope that this will pave the way for more comprehensive research and access to these potentially life-changing treatments.
As a society, it is our duty to support and care for those who have served and sacrificed so much for our country, and providing them with effective mental health treatment should be a top priority. The defense bill’s provisions for psychedelics trials are a significant step towards fulfilling this duty and improving the overall well-being of our veterans. So, let us continue to support and advocate for their mental health needs, just as they have bravely supported us.