Shrooms Bring AOC and Crenshaw Together

Subbotina Anna /
Subbotina Anna /

In any other year, the idea of Representatives Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) seeing eye to eye on anything would seem ridiculous.

Yet, in 2023, it makes sense. At least this time.

While Conservatives typically balk at the idea of looser drug restrictions, Crenshaw has a bill that is now co-sponsored in a bi-partisan effort with AOC and Rep Luis Correa (D-CA). In this bill, the Secretary of Defense would be directed to fund treatment and studies on psilocybin and MDMA for troops on active duty suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. As it is, private sector studies have been showing incredible promise and churning out results that show this as the key to recovery.

Formerly announced back in June, even Crenshaw had to admit it was a “really wild coalition.” He isn’t surprised by this, though. “I still can’t find one member of Congress that is actually opposed to this.” And why should they oppose it? For decades the military has been the place for medical experimentation. While the days of the Tuskegee experiments are long gone, the experimentation with the Anthrax vaccination and pills for malaria, as well as studies in prolonged burn pit exposure, have proven to be incredibly helpful.

Fellow special operations veteran Jesse Gould from the Army Rangers found himself experiencing extreme PTSD following his exit from service. Taking a trip to Peru, he visited an ayahuasca retreat and found that after, his symptoms were greatly relieved. In light of these changes, he founded a nonprofit called “Heroic Hearts Project” to connect veterans with psychedelic therapy programs.

As Gould pointed out, current laws and regulations around psychedelics like ayahuasca, mushrooms, ecstasy, MDMA, and even cannabis are impossible to conduct proper studies on and illegal to prescribe. He believes that having active-duty troops involved could help with the suicide rates. “Let’s get ahead of the problem, resolve the trauma as it comes up, and lead to a healthier military population as well as healthier military family populations.”

Researchers have shown the SSRIs that are commonly prescribed for PTSD are just masking the symptoms of PTSD. Meanwhile, he says the inclusion of psychedelics with therapy can be the resolution they need. “What it does is bring up the base root of trauma in a way that the individual understands, which gives the therapist more tools.”

He also sees how bad the cannabis situation has gone by being unable to be properly researched before laws were passed allowing them. “When you follow the correct course of action, and you don’t have archaic laws preventing it, then you actually have a more informed population.”

Getting bipartisan support behind these issues is incredibly difficult from the conservative side of things. When it’s framed as being for the troops, we are all too ready to jump in though. Instead, this needs to become a topic we can look at in that context without needing to have the “for God and country” twist to it. This is about the medical well-being of not only troops but others who have also survived traumatic events. Despite there being distinctions between the two, there needs to be less of a concern about it.

Medical experimentation is nothing new in the US. However, in 2023 there isn’t a lot we haven’t begun looking into, with or without government approval. The idea of introducing alternative answers like psychedelics, mind expansions, and Eastern medicine is nothing new to the country, and it needs to be something we are more willing to allow. We have seen the help from things like stem cells in other countries, and yet we are still fighting them off.

As 2023 winds down and the 2024 elections are getting ready to start going full force, it’s time we as a country start taking medicine more seriously. If we learned nothing else from COVID, change to access to medicine and access to unconventional options need to be easier to come by. Without them, we as a society are doomed.