The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is continuing its forward momentum on psychedelics, with the agency not only keeping a close watch on psychedelics research and policy amid the growing reform movement but also in its efforts to explore the issuing of new guidance to ensure psychedelic-using veterans are protected against the loss of federal benefits.
This momentum is a far cry from the previous treatment of veterans who once were kicked out of VA facilities for cannabis or psychedelic use. Now, the VA seeks to protect them as well as increase their access to alternative treatment.
A Webinar Held To Drive Momentum
At a recent webinar hosted by the RAND Corporation, the VA discussed its plans to move things forward regarding its policy and ongoing psychedelics research. Stakeholders and funding agencies joined the webinar.
In the webinar, the panel of experts explored how the federal government could possibly influence rapid policy change at the state and local levels. The webinar also thoroughly discussed the lessons learned from cannabis legalization and the process thereof.
Panel experts at the webinar revealed the latest research on the risks and benefits of psychedelic therapy for veterans suffering from complex symptoms and mental health conditions that were hard to treat through conventional methods. Lastly, the pros and cons of potential policy frameworks and insights were reviewed, and recommendations for future guidance were stated thereafter.
The webinar blurb stated, “Veterans represent a sizable segment of mental health care consumers in the United States, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—the largest provider of mental health care to veterans—has already conducted research into psychedelic treatments.”
Other Actions Taken To Speed Up Momentum
Along with this webinar, the VA has been hosting research projects and funding and promoting studies into other ketamine and cannabinoid treatment. Soon, psychedelics will go under the research microscope with further research on the cards.
Currently, VA has provided explicit guidance for clinicians, which encourages discussions among veterans who use marijuana. While the VA cannot issue recommendations in a state with a medical cannabis program, this guidance certainly clarifies that veterans won’t lose their benefits over marijuana use. In the near future, updates on this guidance will be performed.
It’s An Exciting Time In Research Nonetheless
While research is still in its infancy, there’s a growing push for psychedelics reform in state legislatures. It is expected that the laws around psychedelics will change faster than that experienced for cannabis.
Should a more significant contribution of government funding for psychedelics research avail itself and further demonstrate the therapeutic potential of these substances, momentum is set to go on overdrive.
Overall, it’s an exciting time for psychedelic research, which shows promise in treating certain mental health conditions. Hopefully, this momentum, and every action contributing to it, will eventually see these substances become part of the standard of care for military veterans.
Precautions When Moving Forward
As momentum on psychedelics moves forward, it is advised that careful steps be taken concerning veterans who use or are planning to use psychedelics as part of treatment.
Now the question becomes whether or not VA will move to adopt comparable guidance for veterans who take psychedelics.
Currently, VA discourages practical use outside of a clinical trial; however, it encourages the preservation of agency doctor-patient relationships to mitigate the risk of deterring veterans from being transparent about their experiences when engaging with psychedelics in a therapeutic setting or recreationally.
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