Psychedelics Science

Is Federal Legalization of Psychedelic Therapies on the Horizon?

Written by Sabine Downer

It’s no secret that 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine (MDMA) and psilocybin have been demonstrating clinical benefits for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression [3]. It may be more surprising to learn that President Biden’s own son Hunter Biden has personal experience utilizing psychedelic therapies to assist in overcoming drug and alcohol dependencies [4].

Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam Delphin-Rittmon wrote a correspondence in May 2022 revealing the administration’s desire to establish a legal framework for exploring and monitoring the clinical use of psychedelic therapies [2]. Speaking on behalf of The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), she says, “SAMHSA, in collaboration with the Assistant Secretary for Health, is exploring the prospect of establishing a Federal Task Force to monitor and address the numerous complex issues associated with emerging substances. The Task Force may establish and oversee the functions of a public-private partnership that can broadly focus on addressing numerous complex issues associated with psychedelic (psilocybin) and entactogenic (MDMA) medicines but whose risks to public health may require harm reduction, risk mitigation, and safety monitoring.”

There is also a proposed bill called Right to Try Clarification Act that would eliminate obstacles posed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and allow terminally ill patients access to Schedule I drugs that have passed Phase I clinical trials for medicinal purposes [1]. Like cannabis, some states have already made it legal for substances like MDMA and psilocybin to be used therapeutically [5]. The PEW Charitable Trust notes,

“In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration named psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy” in treatment for severe depression, a designation the agency applies to drugs that in early trials demonstrate substantial improvement over existing treatments.”

While federal cannabis legalization languishes, it is clear that there is momentum for federal legalization of psychedelic therapies. At this time when America is facing a mental health crisis, it is more important than ever for the government to provide clinicians with as many useful tools as possible.



1- Booker, Paul Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Amend the Right to Try Act to Assist Terminally Ill Patients. U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Published July 26, 2022. Accessed September 6, 2022.


2- Busby, M. Biden Administratin Plans for Legal Psychedelic Therapies Within Two Years. The Intercept. Published July 26, 2022. Accessed September 6, 2022.


3- Busby, M. Will the magic of psychedelics transform psychiatry? The Guardian. Published November 7, 2021. Accessed September 6, 2022.


4- Kilander, G. Hunter Biden says toad venom kept him sober for a year in memoir. The Independent. Published April 6, 2021. Accessed September 6, 2022.


5- Ollove, M. More States May Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms. Published July 15, 2022. Accessed September 6, 2022.

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Sabine Downer

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