I’m old enough to remember some heartbreaking federal congressional votes on medical cannabis. The federal amendment prohibiting the federal government from prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis patients and providers took passed on the seventh attempt. While it’s easy to take for granted how far we’ve come and be impatient for the United States Senate to join their counterparts in the House in passing a bill to end federal prohibition, advocates may want to temper expectations a bit and practice patience, for their own sanity and to avoid burnout, if history is any guide. Double your mindfulness and meditation if you are expecting Congress to pass sensible psychedelics legislation, but thanks to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we’ve taken the first couple of steps on the journey. Marijuana Moment reported on AOC’s second filing of an amendment to allow federal funding of psychedelic research:
“Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is especially notable given its focus on psychedelics—an issue that’s rarely been breached in Congress. Her measure would strike a longstanding rider, first enacted in 1996, that prohibits the use of federal funds for ‘any activity that promotes the legalization of any drug or other substance in Schedule I.’
“A description of the amendment clarifies that the intent is to allow ‘United States researchers to study and examine the potential impacts of several schedule I drugs, such as MDMA, psilocybin, and or ibogaine, that have been shown to be effective in treating critical diseases.’
“In 2019, a large majority of Democratic House members joined all but seven Republicans in a vote against an earlier version of the congresswoman’s amendment. But given the surge in state and local psychedelics reform efforts in the years since, it stands to reason that this Congress may take the issue more seriously.”
While it’s always disappointing to lose important votes, it’s all a part of the process towards educating legislators while changing the political calculations of elected officials by demonstrating public support, and most importantly, winning elections. Psychedelic research isn’t going to benefit the current special interests that fill up campaign coffers, so it’s going to take some time. Oregon voters passing Measure 109 to legalize therapeutic psilocybin therapy and Measure 110 to decriminalize personal possession of all drugs was a start, just as California kicked off a winning stretch for cannabis by passing the Prop 215 medical measure all the way back in 1996. As we win elections state by state, we can expect for those political victories and scientific advancements to resonate more forcefully throughout the halls of Congress.
No matter your kind of trip, to the mountains, river, high desert, or staying at home, Kind Leaf, Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique, should be your first stop. We are proud of Oregonians leading the way and are looking forward to what the future holds for all of us as we all remember to be kind to one another.