Bipartisan Push for Drug Policy Reform Takes Center Stage in Defense Bill, Amidst Uncertainty over Unrelated Measures

Drug Policy Reform Takes Center Stage in Defense Bill as Bipartisan Lawmakers Advocate for Change

Amidst a House committee meeting on Tuesday, bipartisan lawmakers made a strong case for the adoption of marijuana and psychedelics amendments as part of a large-scale defense bill. However, the fate of these proposals remains uncertain due to complications arising from unrelated measures pushed by conservative members. The House Rules Committee has cleared 290 mostly non-controversial amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for floor votes. Nevertheless, the remaining amendments, including over a dozen reform proposals, will require further consideration.

During the committee meeting, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) passionately advocated for his amendment that seeks to end drug testing for cannabis among members. Gaetz highlighted the long-standing flaws in federal cannabis policy, emphasizing that cannabis should be treated more like alcohol. He argued that the current policy acts as an unnecessary barrier for individuals seeking to join the military, especially considering that cannabis use is legal in many states. It is important to note that his amendment does not undermine the Department of Defense’s authority to prohibit cannabis use while actively serving in the military.

Before the House Rules Committee meeting, the House Armed Services Committee had already incorporated two medical cannabis and psychedelics provisions into the NDAA. One of these provisions, introduced by Representative Morgan Luttrell (R-TX), calls for a clinical study on the of psychedelics for service members with conditions such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury. The study would explore the potential benefits of substances like psilocybin, MDMA, ibogaine, and DMT. However, several proposed revisions seek to further refine this language.

Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who sponsors separate legislation with similar objectives, stressed the importance of studying the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. He noted the existing evidence supporting their effectiveness and the need for a deeper understanding to provide appropriate treatment to suffering service members. Crenshaw expressed the urgency to revise and restore the original provisions, which were watered down during the markup process, by specifying the requirement for clinical trials and securing funding for .

Among the drug policy amendments being considered are proposals to prohibit security clearance denials based solely on marijuana use that is legal at the level, prevent the punishment of military servicemembers for using CBD or other -derived products, and allow VA doctors to issue cannabis recommendations to in states where marijuana is legalized for therapeutic purposes. Additionally, amendments aim to expedite the waiver process for recruits and applicants who admit to prior cannabis use and empower the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to substances like psilocybin and MDMA from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

Despite the significance of these drug policy reform amendments, the House Rules Committee did not include them in the first non-controversial package for floor consideration. Members will have to address these proposals in a future meeting, which is yet to be scheduled.

The potential for bipartisan support is high for the marijuana-related amendments, with Representative Robert Garcia (D-CA) expressing optimism. He believes there is strong bipartisan backing, including his own amendment to prevent security clearance denials based on prior cannabis use.

While the outcome of these drug policy reform proposals remains uncertain, it is worth noting that the House’s version of the NDAA previously included report language instructing the secretary of defense to study the use of alternative therapies, including certain pharmacologic or plant-based treatments, for conditions such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain. The exclusion of other cannabis-related amendments and initiatives, such as cannabis banking reform, has been a disappointment for advocates and stakeholders. However, recent developments, such as the Senate Appropriations Committee’s report calling for medical marijuana access for veterans and exploration of psychedelics’ therapeutic potential by the VA, indicate a growing recognition of the need for comprehensive drug policy reform.

Malvin Felix
I'm Malvin, a cannabis news enthusiast who finds joy in staying updated about the latest industry trends. My passion led me to become a dedicated writer, entrepreneur, and investor in the cannabis space. Through my writing, I aim to educate and spark discussions, while my entrepreneurial ventures and strategic investments reflect my commitment to driving positive change in the industry.

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