Representatives Lou Correa (CA-46) and Jack Bergman (MI-01) announced the relaunch of their Congressional Psychedelics Advancing Therapies (PATH) Caucus for the 118th Congress.
The Caucus said in a press release that it will address ways to alleviate the national mental health crisis through psychedelic science and research. PATH is meant to advance the use of psychedelics for clinical research, and the representatives were quick to note it is not meant to promote recreational use nor is the intention to decriminalize compounds.
It was originally launched in 2022 and was called the Congressional Psychedelics Advancing Clinical Treatments (PACT) Caucus.
“Psychedelic-assisted therapies have shown incredible lasting potential to treat depression, substance use disorder, and PTSD. Further clinical research is necessary—we must learn more about what additional diseases and disorders these compounds can successfully treat, but we should also learn what they don’t work for,” Correa, co-chair of the PATH Caucus, said. “If these treatments can save the lives of my constituents and fellow Americans, and are safe to receive in clinical settings, why would we not want to research them?”
According to the press release, the caucus’ goals include:
- Increasing awareness among members of Congress, their staff, and the media of evidence-based psychedelic science and research based on FDA-approved clinical trials psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PaT)
- Holding regular briefings on Capitol Hill to keep members of Congress and their staff informed of the latest psychedelic science and research news
- Supporting increased federal funding for psychedelic science, medicine, and R&D and championing other legislative policies and priorities of importance to the research and science community
- Highlighting priorities on behalf of interested members of Congress to external stakeholders and the executive branch
- Convening bipartisan thought leaders to educate Congress on the evidence around the research and science
“We are suffering from a mental health crisis in our nation. While its impacts have been felt in every community, our veterans and servicemembers continue to struggle at a higher rate than their civilian peers,” Bergman, co-chair of the PATH Caucus, said. “Unfortunately, current medical interventions have proven inadequate and too often fail to help those in the greatest need.”
Correa noted that the Food and Drug Administration granted breakthrough therapy designation to MDMA and psilocybin in 2017 and 2019, respectively. According to the FDA, “Breakthrough therapy designation is a process designed to expedite the development and review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious condition, and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy on clinically significant endpoints.”
Additionally, in September 2021, the acting director of the National Drug Control Policy recommended reducing barriers to research using Schedule I substances.
Research related to psychedelics-assisted therapy has been gaining steam in many institutions. For example:
- Johns Hopkins University and New York University are advancing FDA-approved clinical trials using psychedelics to treat addictions and other mental disorders.
- The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is conducting trials of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in PTSD in conjunction with the James J. Peters Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
- The Dana Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard Medical School is working on a clinical trial using psilocybin for hospice patients.
- Yale University is performing multiple trials assessing psilocybin for depression, headache disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).