There are many, many problems with the War on Drugs.
But aside from the obvious ones like mass incarceration and wasting taxpayer dollars charging and incarcerating people for victimless “crimes,” there are the impacts this ridiculous set of laws has on our healthcare system.
Namely, these laws block people from accessing life saving medications.
Many of the drugs criminalized under the War on Drugs are actually medicines, not that politicians care. These drugs get classified under certain schedules that make them inaccessible to Americans…and can even land them in jail if they try to obtain them.
Of importance, there are two drugs currently listed as Schedule I drugs, MDMA and psilocybin, that have shown a tremendous amount of promise in treating a number of significant mental illnesses.
If Americans could access these drugs, it’s likely we would see a huge improvement among people dealing with anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal depression. This is important as existing treatments for these illnesses are currently patchy at best. Many of the drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies for mental health treatment have very bad side effects, and they simply don’t work for a lot of people who try them. They can also be expensive and require people to be medicated for life to continue seeing results. That’s not ideal.
That’s why Senators Rand Paul, a Republican, and Cory Booker, a Democrat, have teamed up on the Right to Try Clarification Act.
Under current ‘Right to Try’ federal law, patients with life-threatening illnesses (who’ve exhausted all approved treatment options) can access medications that have yet to receive their final FDA approval so long as at least one phase of drug testing has been completed. If these conditions are met, states can choose to remove the FDA from the equation and allow doctors to prescribe these medicines for their patients (as it should be).
But the current classifications of the War on Drugs gets in the way of this process and means doctors still can’t prescribe all medicines that meet these standards. So the Right to Try Clarification Act would remove the obstacles created by the Controlled Substances Act with respect to Schedule I substances, and would basically allow the same protocols to be applied to medicines like MDMA and psilocybin.
“As a physician, I know how important ‘Right to Try’ is for patients facing a life-threatening condition,” said Dr. Paul. “Unfortunately, the federal bureaucracy continues to block patients seeking to use Schedule I drugs under Right to Try. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Sen. Booker that will get government out of the way and give doctors more resources to help patients.”
Notably, both of these drugs have already proven effective at treating mental health conditions in both Phase 1 and 2 of their clinical trials. In fact the FDA already found them so effective and safe that they’ve labeled them breakthrough therapies….making their ongoing criminalization frankly criminal in and of itself.
“Recent studies suggest that MDMA and psilocybin could represent an enormous advancement in mental health and psychopharmacology,” said Senator Booker. “Unfortunately, many eligible patients who urgently need care do not currently have access to these promising therapies. This legislation will put the patient first and help ensure access to life-changing and life-saving drugs.”
The War on Drugs has ruined countless lives. In blocking people who are suffering from existing healthcare options – that could be the difference in life and death for many – this doomed war continues that track record. It’s imperative we get rid of it in its entirety. This is an important step in that direction that will protect human life and increase healthcare options.
It should be an easy yes, no matter where one falls politically.