Texas lawmakers consider studying the effects of psychedelics on veterans with PTSD

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - State Rep. Alex Dominguez, D-Brownsville, is pushing for Texas to be the first state to study the effects of certain psychedelic drugs on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

House Bill 1802, heard in committee on Wednesday, would direct the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, together with Baylor College of Medicine and a VA hospital, to conduct a clinical study looking at how psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” could help veterans living with PTSD.

“These work significantly more rapidly than our traditionally available antidepressants,” Dr. Lynnette Averill, an associate professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, said at a news conference in support of the bill last week.

“They work significantly more robustly than our traditionally available antidepressants,” she said.

The commission also would be required to look at past research on the effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and ketamine on PTSD.

The bill would require regular updates and recommendations to the state’s leaders and lawmakers.

“It’s not necessarily this hippy sort of like, ‘Let’s just escape,’” Jesse Gould, a veteran and the president of the Heroic Hearts Project, told KWTX.

“There is a lot of huge healing potential,” he said.

He said he used psychedelic treatments to treat his PTSD when he discovered that other treatments did not work.

He also said that the bill would open the door to important research that has been somewhat limited.

“The drug policies in the U.S. have made it essentially an impossible catch 22 to study these where most of these substances including cannabis, psychedelics and MDMA are Schedule 1,” he said.

Those wanting to receive psychedelic treatments for mental health conditions must travel outside the country.

“We dishonor them by having them leave the country yet again to find treatment,” Dominguez, the bill’s author, said at the news conference.

The bill has garnered bipartisan support, including from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“I’m a great example of a fairly conservative elected official who is against drugs in any form or fashion,” Perry said at the news conference.

“Used properly, it could save lives,” he said.

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