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Psychedelics for All: The Need for Broader Access Beyond the Military

Townhall Media

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) are joining forces to advocate for allowing military personnel access to psychedelic drugs as a potential treatment for PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and depression. They argue that psychedelics have shown promise and could provide much-needed resources for veterans struggling with these conditions, with Crenshaw sharing personal anecdotes of friends who found relief through psychedelic treatments.

Both lawmakers expressed their support for allowing service members to access psychedelics to treat various mental health problems. It seems to be a positive step forward as these substances have been shown to provide numerous benefits for those suffering from mental illness. However, this raises another important question: Why not make these items legal for the rest of the public as well?

The two representatives gave comments on the effort:

“Psychedelics have shown so much promise,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the effort, according to a report from the New York Daily News. “We desperately need the resources to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and depression. At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”

The progressive lawmaker’s comments come as the military and Department of Veterans Affairs grapple with the growth of post-traumatic stress disorder in the ranks, an ailment that has doubled among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan compared to Vietnam-era veterans. According to the VA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 450,000 combat veterans have suffered from a some sort of traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2021.

Crenshaw explained that he had friends who returned from the military conflicts and benefitted from psychedelics:

“I was turned on to this issue because I had so many friends… who were going down to a specific clinic and doing ibogaine – one treatment of ibogaine would cure them,” Crenshaw said

The duo targeted this year’s National Defense Authorization Act to introduce their proposal, managing to get a “watered-down version” of the bill they authored into the massive yearly legislation.

Ocasio-Cortez and Crenshaw’s effort to allow members of the military access to psychedelic drugs is a commendable step toward addressing mental health issues within the armed forces. The therapeutic potential of psychedelics in treating conditions like depression and PTSD is well-documented. However, it is crucial to recognize that the benefits of these substances extend beyond the military context. All Americans, regardless of their occupation, should have the freedom to explore the potential benefits of psychedelics for their mental health and overall well-being.

The positive impact of psychedelics in mental health treatment cannot be ignored. Research has shown promising results in alleviating symptoms of depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions that often go untreated or remain unresponsive to conventional therapies. By limiting access to psychedelics solely to military personnel, we miss an opportunity to extend these benefits to a larger population in need.

There is also the issue of individual rights. The decision to use psychedelics for therapeutic purposes should be a matter of personal autonomy, not something the government can use the threat of physical violence to prohibit. Every individual has the right to choose what they put into their own bodies. The government has no business restricting personal choices. Upholding individual rights is fundamental to a society that respects personal freedom and empowers individuals to take control of their own well-being.

Psychedelics have long been shrouded in stigma and misconceptions, largely due to their classification as illegal substances. However, growing evidence supports their potential benefits when used responsibly and under professional guidance. By allowing all Americans to access psychedelics, we can facilitate research, broaden understanding, and reduce the stigma surrounding these substances. Such a shift in perspective could pave the way for more comprehensive mental health treatment options that address the needs of a diverse range of individuals.

The collaborative efforts of Ocasio-Cortez and Crenshaw to expand access to psychedelics for military personnel highlight the urgent need to reimagine our approach to mental health treatment. However, we must remember that the potential benefits of psychedelics extend beyond the military.

All Americans, regardless of their profession, should have the freedom to explore alternative treatments for mental health conditions without the state dictating to use what we are allowed to consume. By advocating for broader access to psychedelics, we can advance personal autonomy, overcome stigmas, and foster a society that prioritizes individual well-being and mental health.

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