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A former Republican congressman has joined the board of directors of a psychedelics advocacy group working to reform federal policies around entheogenic plants and fungi like psilocybin.

Former Rep. Ryan Costello, who represented Pennsylvania in Congress from 2015 to 2019, is now part of the newly renamed Psychedelic Medicine Coalition (PMC), which was previously called the Plant Medicine Coalition.

Beyond the name change and new additions to the board, PMC also announced Thursday that it will host its first annual national roundtable on psychedelic policies on January 26. The event “will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working in the space of psychedelic medicine. to expose the future of psychedelic politics in our nation’s capital, ”according to a press release.

Of particular interest is the announcement of Costello’s arrival on the PMC board of directors. But while it may seem surprising that a former GOP congressman is working on an issue more commonly associated with a progressive agenda, Costello has championed drug policy reform before, including during his tenure.

The congressman has co-sponsored a variety of marijuana-related bills, including those aimed at protecting states that legalize cannabis from federal interference, and supported several reform amendments to Capitol Hill.

It was also announced last summer that Costello had joined multi-state cannabis companies Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. (RWB) as a consultant. He is not the first former congressman to enter the cannabis space, but he is a rare example of someone who actually worked to advance the issue while he was in power before doing this. transition. Others, like former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), opposed reform during their tenure before leaving and then joining the industry.

Either way, PMC’s announcement signals that the organization is gearing up for an active year on the psychedelics front.

“Our mission remains the same and is more important than ever: to create, protect and promote safe and equitable access to natural and synthetic psychedelic and herbal medicines,” said Melissa Lavasani, Founder and Executive Director of PMC.

She said the group’s name change “was necessary in order to properly reflect both the diverse coalition we have built over the past year, as well as the leap in public awareness regarding the healing potential of women. psychedelic drugs ”.

“We continue to educate Congress and the administration as we fight for funding for research on psychedelics and herbal medicines,” Lavasani said.

In addition to Costello, PMC announced that Zuber Lawler’s Tom Zuber and Psychedelics Today’s Joe Moore are also joining its board.

PMC has also appointed founding members of the advisory board which include Dr. Bronner’s CEO and activist David Bronner, Microdose CEO Patrick Moher, Nushama chief strategy officer Julia Mirer, Green Horizon Los Arias CEO and owner. from the Pure Vitality Center Kelly Bender.

PMC, founded by the DC campaign leader who pushed through the decriminalization of psychedelics locally in the 2020 election, also announced late last year that it had awarded around $ 50,000 in its first round. grants to various community groups to support efforts to educate and organize people. around plant medicine.

While Congress has yet to end the marijuana ban, psychedelic reform is gradually gaining attention in the nation’s capital.

For example, a congressman recently began asking fellow lawmakers to join him in asking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an experimental treatment without fear of prosecution. federal.

A letter to a dear colleague that is circulated by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) notes that there are federal and state Right to Try (RTT) laws that should ensure that some patients can get the psychedelic given that he showed early potential. in ongoing clinical trials.

Still, the DEA denied access, prompting a lawsuit that was filed in March by a Washington state doctor who sought advice from the federal government on treating terminally ill patients. with psilocybin mushrooms and was told there was no legal way for him to do it.

The lawsuit against DEA is currently before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which heard oral arguments in the case in September. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has joined the plaintiffs in supporting access to psilocybin. DEA argued that the court should dismiss the action because it lacked jurisdiction.

Blumenauer separately told Marijuana Moment last month that he was “excited” by the progress of psychedelic research, as well as the implementation of a psilocybin therapy program that is being implemented in his. Home state of Oregon, where voters approved historic reform in last year’s election.

Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate also introduced legislation late last month that would make it easier for scientists to research Schedule I drugs like marijuana and psilocybin.

Marijuana Moment is already following more than 800 cannabis, psychedelics, and drug bills in state legislatures and in Congress this year. Patreon supporters by pledging at least $ 25 / month, access our interactive maps, charts and audience calendar so they don’t miss any development.

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The DEA has repeatedly proposed significant increases in the production of marijuana, psilocybin, and other psychedelics for research purposes, in an effort to aid in the development of federally approved new therapeutic drugs.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that she was encouraged by the DEA’s previously proposed increase in the drug production quota. She also said studies demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics may lead more people to experiment with substances like psilocybin.

Psilocybin services to be legalized in Washington state under new bill

Photo courtesy of Dick culbert.

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James R. Rhodes